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UK must 'get a grip on tax dodgers'

THE UK Government has been told to "get a grip" after it emerged that a third of Britain's top tax dodgers, who owe tens of millions of pounds, are still successfully evading the taxman.

David Gauke, the Treasury Minister, has admitted in a parliamentary answer that HM Revenue and Customs has no idea where 11 of its 32 most wanted tax fugitives are - despite six of them apparently living in the UK.

The most wanted list was launched in August 2012 but HMRC has so far managed to secure only four arrests or convictions, figures released by Mr Gauke showed.

Labour last night urged ministers to get control of the situation as people would be concerned about the lack of action on tax avoidance and evasion; which are major Coalition priorities.

Shabana Mahmood, the Shadow Treasury ­Minister, who obtained the figures through a written ­parliamentary question, said: "People will be very concerned.

"And with just four out of the 32 people on its most wanted list arrested or convicted, ministers clearly need to get a grip."

She added: "At a time when families are facing a cost-of-living crisis and the deficit is high this is just not good enough."

The latest addition to the most wanted list is John Sabin, who was involved in a £26 million cigarette smuggling fraud and has been missing for 12 years since failing to appear for sentencing in court.

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment in his absence and HMRC believe he is still living in the UK.

Criminal proceedings against six of the most wanted fugitives have not been possible because Britain does not have extradition treaties in place with the countries where they now reside. Two fugitives are in countries which do not extradite for tax offences, Mr Gauke explained.

Meanwhile, more than 1500 people found time on Christmas Day to submit their online tax returns, HM Revenue and Customs has said.

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