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Man Behind £25m UK Tax Scam Found In Cyprus

A £25m fraudster who is on the run from a British jail has said he is trying to negotiate a return to the UK.

Fugitive Timur Mehmet, 39, has spent five years hiding in Northern Cyprus, which has no extradition treaty with Britain.

Sky News tracked him down to a plush, new villa between the mountains and the sea in the resort of Kyrenia.

At first he tried to deny who he was, but then Sky showed him his Most Wanted poster.

"Yes, it's me," admitted Mehmet, a British subject with family links in the Turkish-controlled north of the divided island.

"I am trying to do a deal to return to the UK. People who think I should be serving my sentence will get their wish very soon."

Mehmet was a leading member of a gang involved in a complex fraud involving the buying and selling of computer parts and gold bullion.

The scam, known as a carousel fraud, was to re-sell goods several times and claim VAT which they then failed to pass on to HM Revenue and Customs.

They did this by setting up a group of bogus companies issuing sham invoices.

Mehmet and 20 others, including his uncle Mustapha, were convicted after a series of trials which ended at Northampton Crown Court in 2010.

By then, Mehmet had already jumped bail and been jailed in his absence for eight years, the longest sentence given.

He was exposed as one of the UK's Most Wanted fugitives at a Crimestoppers press conference in the Cyprus capital Nicosia last month.

Emerging from a villa, he said: "I was already talking to my lawyer before the Crimestoppers appeal. I am going to resolve this, but I don't see the benefit in talking to you about it. It's complicated."

Mehmet denied the villa he was living in was his and when Sky asked him what he did in northern Cyprus, he replied: "Nothing."

But Sky has established his connection with a US-style burger restaurant called Johnny Rockets in Famagusta.

He was pictured at the opening party two years ago, but said the restaurant was run by his family and not him.

He is also involved in developing a 12-storey office block in Nicosia. Last year, he was selling space in the building and the constructor told Sky Mehmet and his father were the owners.

Mehmet said he was quite prepared to return to the UK and do his sentence, adding: "I would rather not say what my reasons are."

So far, three of the nine Cyprus Most Wanted fugitives exposed by Crimestoppers have been arrested.