A BUSINESSMAN who fled to Portugal and spent £105,000 that he should have handed over in income tax has failed to repay it.
But David D'Orazi, aged 52, of Lancaster drive, Upper Rissington, says it has not been for a want of trying and he has been doing his best to release the money but the Inland Revenue has dragged its heels, he told Gloucester Crown Court.
Judge Jamie Tabor QC said "When they want money they normally act like greyhounds"
Last year D'Orazi was convicted of defrauding HM Customs and Excise of £105,024,46.
The court heard that after the Revenue got a court order against him he sold his house and went to Portugal with his wife where they blew all cash on luxurious high living and designer goods.
In October Judge Tabor deferred sentence on him for six months to enable him to liquidate his £300,000 pension pot so he could satisfy the HMRC demand, which has now risen to £148,000 because of interest charges.
But when D'Orazi returned to court today (Friday) to be sentenced, his barrister Roger Carne said the Revenue had initially decided that D'Orazi's pension fund was not of the right type to be cashed in.
Later, however, they had decided that there was a way around it and currently D'Orazi was following their guidance to try to realise it, Mr Carne said.
Judge Tabor reminded Mr Carne that last October he warned that D'Orazi would have to serve a prison sentence unless he came up with the money.
He agreed to adjourn sentence for a further 12 weeks to see if the money can be accessed and paid to HMRC.
Told by the judge that he would have to 'grasp the nettle' and get on with it if he wanted to avoid prison, D'Orazi said he had "pushed and pushed and pushed" with the Revenue without success so far.
"It does seem bizarre that they take this view but they do seem reluctant to allow this scheme to take place," he said,
Nick Fryer, prosecuting, agreed that during the trial last year the Revenue had not been helpful to the Crown even though it was in their interests.
Judge Tabor said "But this is public money. He owes it. This country is bankrupt. We need every penny we can get, "
Mr Carne told the judge "He has raised £5,000." The judge said "Oh, just £140,000 to go then."
The case was adjourned to June 27 to see if the situation can be resolved and the money paid.