Duncan Evans, originally from Wales, was BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 1980. But the 50-year-old became involved in VAT fraud, living a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense.
Manchester Crown Court heard how he fed the cash into offshore bank accounts in Hong Kong and used it to buy multi-million pound properties in the north west.
Evans splashed out £1.2m in 2002 on Deansgreen Hall in Lymm, Cheshire, before selling it for £3.5m just a year later.
The sprawling house boasts eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, staff accommodation, stables and a car park for 12 vehicles.
He used the profits from that to buy Ravenstone House in Hale for £2m. Ravenstone has six bedrooms, a home cinema and 35 acres of grounds.
Evans, who also spent £195,000 on a Rolls Royce, was jailed for a tax scam known as `missing trader’ fraud.
He took advantage of the fact VAT is not charged on the sale of goods between VAT- registered companies based in different European countries.
Evans would buy goods from other countries then claim against huge sums of VAT that were never liable or paid.
Co-conspirator Leslie Cairns, 51, of Bramhall Lane, Stockport, was also jailed for four years for his role in the swindle.
A spokesman for HM Revenue and Customs, said: “Organised crime groups will stop at nothing in their bid to build vast portfolios of cash, properties, performance cars and other luxury items at the expense of the British taxpayer.
A confiscation hearing was set for May 14 next year and assets of more than £5m have already been seized. Evans was previously jailed for three years in 2003 for his involvement in a similar fraud, along with notorious gang member Ray Woolley, known as `Riviera Ray’.
In his stellar career as an amateur golfer, Evans played in the Walker Cup – the amateur equivalent of the Ryder Cup – and won the British Amateur Championship in 1981.
Kevin Kinsella, Chief Executive of Kinsella Tax Limited says:
“The ex-amateur golf champion masterminded a £3.5 million tax scam.
Now the interesting thing to note about this is that the Revenue have already seized assets of more than £5 million.
They are seeking further sums because, very simply, one might think well if you have taken £3.5 million and put back £3.5 million then that will even it up.
Now, the Money Laundering Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 make it quite clear that money that has been scammed in any way, in other words becomes contaminated, when mixed with kosher money or straight money or honest money then it contaminates that honest money.
So a lot of the £3.5 million for instance, if any of that has been used to buy the existing marital home then that comes up for grabs as well.
We came across a case recently where a car dealer couldn’t actually prove how he had purchased 3 Land Rovers.
Not only did he lose the Land Rovers but was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment.”
Kevin Kinsella is also a member of the Institute of Money Laundering Prevention Officers (IMLPO).