From: This is Nottingham
A NOTTINGHAM man who has cost the taxpayer £16m is on the run for the second time after being bailed by Spanish authorities.
Malcolm McGowan, 60, formerly of Manvers Court, Sneinton, has been wanted by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) since 2001 when he was convicted of smuggling £4m-worth of cigarettes into Britain.
He received a four-year jail sentence at Sheffield Crown Court in his absence.
The Post reported in December 2011 that he had been captured after ten years in Valencia, Spain, under a European arrest warrant by officers from the paramilitary Civil Guard.
He appeared before Spain’s National Criminal Court and was sent to a top security prison just outside Madrid.
But it has now emerged that he was later granted bail – and that he has absconded again.
A HMRC spokeswoman said bail had been granted because Spanish holding laws were different to those in the UK.
He was originally arrested on February 24, 2000, along with ten others, after customs officers intercepted containers carrying six million Superkings cigarettes in gypsum boards at Thamesport, in Kent.
Six days later, a further 3.3 million Embassy Number 1 cigarettes were seized from a lorry travelling from France to Dover.
McGowan was convicted of smuggling 24.3 million cigarettes, worth £4m in unpaid duty, into the UK from November 1999, to March 2000.
He was one of 20 criminals – who have together cost Britain £700m – whose photos were released yesterday by HMRC as part of a Government crackdown.
Wayne Hardy, 49, formerly of Leahurst Road, West Bridgford, also appeared on the list.
He is believed to have fled to South Africa.
The plot was uncovered when over 100 customs officers, supported by police and the Serious Organised Crimes Agency, raided premises in Suffolk, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Essex in 2008.
Officers discovered over 16 tonnes of raw-leaf tobacco which would have been made into hand-rolling tobacco.
Hardy fled before trial but was convicted for cigarette smuggling in his absence at Norwich Crown Court on October 12, 2011. He received a three-year jail sentence.
Exchequer Secretary David Gauke said: “These criminals have collectively cost the taxpayer over £765m and HMRC will pursue them relentlessly. We hope that publishing their pictures in this way will enable members of the public to contribute to the effort to catch them.”