Lineker’s brother jailed for tax fraud

THE millionaire brother of former football star Gary Lineker was jailed for two-and-a-half years yesterday after admitting a €317,000 tax fraud.

Sports bar owner Wayne Lineker smuggled cash into Britain using a money mule system of unsuspecting family and friends.

At first bundles of pesetas and escudos from pubs in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands were laundered into sterling at bureaux de change.

Then stockbroker John Stacey was brought in to secure a better exchange rate by siphoning it through several bank accounts.

But the scam came unstuck when auditors realised accounting rules had been breached during the transfer of Lineker’s secret profits.

The two men, and David Hodges, Lineker’s manager, were jailed at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

The court heard how Lineker did not declare all the profits from his lucrative chain and instead smuggled the equivalent of £220,000 (around €317,000) into Britain.

As a result the Inland Revenue lost £80,000, which rose to £90,000 (€130,000) with inflation.

Judge Stephen Robbins said it was a serious offence because it defrauded honest taxpayers.

He said: “You, through your counsel, accept prime responsibility for initiating this conspiracy which was sustained over a period of about 18 months ... and led to a loss of £90,000 tax including interest.”

He also warned Lineker, 43, who owns a £2m mansion in Fyfield, Essex, that unless he paid back the outstanding £90,000 he faced a further 24 months in jail.

Lineker, whose brother presents Match of the Day, admitted one count of conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue between 1999 and 2001.

When interviewed, Lineker told police his company’s procedures were “lax” and they had simply failed to identify all the money he had paid in.

Later he admitted: “We don’t declare all our takings to the tax authorities in Spain either, you know.”

Stacey, 56, of Southend, Essex, was jailed for 18 months after being convicted of conspiracy following an earlier two-week trial.

Hodges, 43, of Waltham Abbey, Essex, was sentenced to 20 months after admitting conspiracy.

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