Fugitive Scots fraudster caught flying with fake passport

Geoffrey Johnston, from Angus, was at the centre of an international fraud scheme.

Geoffrey Johnston: Fraudster deported to UK (file pic). HMRC

Geoffrey Johnston: Fraudster deported to UK (file pic). HMRC

A fraudster at the centre of an international criminal scheme who fled the UK to avoid prison has been jailed. Fugitive Geoffrey Johnston escaped to Kenya in July 2014 and was sentenced to ten years in prison in his absence.

The 74-year-old from Forfar, Angus, had another 14 years added to his sentence when he failed to repay £109m of criminal proceeds. Johnston managed to evade the authorities until earlier this month, when he was caught trying to travel to Dubai with a fake British passport.

He was deported to the UK on Thursday morning and was sentenced to an additional six months in prison at Kingston Crown Court. His son, Gareth Johnston, who was also sentenced over the fraud, remains at large.

Simon York, director of HMRC's fraud investigation service, said: "We've been pursuing Johnson from the day he decided to flee the UK."Despite him taking audacious measures to evade capture, we tracked him across the globe and he is now back to begin a long spell in prison.

"This sophisticated fraud was outright theft of money intended for important public services and it is right that he now pays the price for that crime." Johnson was part of a gang of 18 people based in Scotland, England and Spain.

They set up a number of businesses which claimed to legitimately import and sell mobile phones. However, an investigation by the HMRC uncovered a series of complex transactions used to launder stolen money through bank accounts in the UK, Dubai, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Portugal and the US.