Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife reporting from Budapest
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– One of Britain’s most wanted men has been detained in the Hungarian capital Budapest on suspicion of massive tax fraud, police told BosNewsLife Friday, February 6.
Budapest-born Dennis Hunter, 58, has been charged with damaging the British treasury for some £250 million ($370 million), British officials said. “Hungary will transfer Hunter within ten days to the United Kingdom,” said Laszlo Bartha, spokesman of the International Investigation Department of Hungarian National Police.
“We received an official request for his extradition from a British court yesterday,” he added.
Bartha told BosNewsLife that Hunter, who he said has dual Hungarian and New Zealand citizenship, was arrested Tuesday by two Hungarian police officers in an Irish pub in Budapest, following a tip from Spanish colleagues.
“This was an international operation involving Spanish, Hungarian and British agents,” Bartha told BosNewsLife. “He did not resist his arrest.”
Hunter was hunted for years by police for allegedly supervising a huge ‘carousel fraud’ operation with Value Added Tax (VAT), which is said to have taken place between May 2001 and August 2003.
Under the scheme he and others allegedly bought goods, added VAT, and sold them to one or more European countries. They apparently disappeared without handing over the VAT to tax authorities.
The European Union loses billions of dollars annually because of VAT fraud, according to European estimates. Cross-border transactions within the EU are zero-rated for VAT, allowing crime syndicates to exploit this and pocket millions, experts say.
Organized crime groups have used Hungary and other former East Block nations as a base for operations, police officials said. Hunter was mentioned on a list of the 10 most wanted in Britain. Before his sudden arrest in Hungary, police had long believed he had been hiding in Spain.