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Straight to jail for fugitive tax fraudster

Press release   •   Feb 21, 2017 17:31 GMT

A runaway tax fraudster is starting a six year jail sentence, after being extradited back to the UK by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for failing to repay £1.5 million.

South African Leib Berger, 53, previously known as Lawrence Goldberg, was originally jailed for two years in September 2011 for stealing more than £1 million through a Self Assessment tax fraud. Posing as a nominated tax agent, he hijacked innocent people’s identities and invented other clients to send fraudulent tax returns to HMRC.

In December 2012, he was ordered to repay £249,999 by December 2013 or receive a default prison sentence of 16 months. In an attempt to escape justice Berger fled to Spain. While he was at large, investigations by HMRC revealed he had further assets and in September 2015 the confiscation order was increased to £1.5 million. A month later the default prison sentence was amended to six years.

Berger was tracked down and arrested in Spain on 7 February 2017. He was extradited back to the UK today Tuesday 21 February 2017.

Notes for editors

1.In December 2012, Leib Berger, previously known as Lawrence Goldberg, DOB 24/01/1964 was ordered to pay £249,999 at the Old Bailey or serve 16 months in prison. The confiscation order was amended in September 2015 while he was a fugitive in Spain and he was ordered to pay £1.5 million. In October 2015, he was given a default prison sentence of six years.

2.Berger pleaded guilty in September 2011 to cheating the public revenue and was sentenced to two years in jail when he appeared at the Old Bailey Court on 9 September 2011. He ran the fraud from a maisonette in West London.

3.Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

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Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.