British businessman cleared of embezzlement and tax fraud

Doug Barrowman, the husband of disgraced Peer Michelle Mone, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in his Spanish embezzlement and tax fraud trial.

Mr Barrowman had been accused of misappropriation and tax evasion by the Spanish courts along with six other British businessmen.

The charges related to the purchase in 2008 of a cable factory by B3 Cable Solutions Spain, of which Mr Barrowman was one of the two largest shareholders.

The case focused on a €6.3 million (£5.35 million) payment by the cable firm to a “linked” UK company called Axis Ventura, which Mr Barrowman founded.

The prosecution alleged that Mr Barrowman and five of his associates invoiced the cable firm for consultancy services which had either been inflated or never provided.

Another allegation was that all seven defendants had defrauded the Spanish Treasury by claiming tax relief on part of the six-figure ‘consultancy fee’ in B3 Cable’s 2009 annual return.

While Mr Barrowman admitted to playing a “senior role” in the purchase of the cable factory, he told the court he had resigned as an Axis Ventura director and sold his shares in the company two months before the purchase went through.

All the defendants said there was “abundant documentation” relating to negotiations between Axis and the cable factory’s former owners, making it clear that services had been provided.

The three Spanish judges agreed and said that while the payment may have been “disproportionate”, given the factory purchase cost, this did not necessarily imply any criminal wrongdoing.

Roger Isaacs, Forensic Partner at Milsted Langdon, said: “No doubt Mr Barrowman was relieved to have been able to persuade the court that he had disassociated himself from Axis Ventura at the relevant time, presumably on the basis of compelling evidence that is likely to have been scrutinised by teams of lawyers and forensic accountants.”

Sources: Isle of Man 3FM

Posted in Blog, Forensic, The Forensic Blog.