Botnar writs surprise

Two leading Big Six tax investigations specialists were served with writs by Nissan UK founder Octav Botnar last week.

Bob Brown, Ernst & Young’s national director of tax investigations, and Tom Cawdron, who holds the same post at Price Waterhouse, face a writ for malicious prosecution. The action, which has also been served on the Inland Revenue, relates to Brown and Cawdron’s activities while serving as senior Revenue investigators.

Brown and Cawdron, who refused to comment on the writ, were hailed in 1991 as the men who ‘brought Botnar to book,’ following a raid on Nissan UK’s Worthing offices in 1991. Resulting criminal prosecutions led to two of Nissan UK’s directors being jailed.

After an epic struggle, Nissan UK agreed to pay #59m in 1996 as a corporation tax settlement.

Botnar still faces a separate court ruling ordering him to pay #68m tax on dividends paid to a charitable trust.

The Revenue dropped two outstanding arrest warrants against Botnar, 84, in November on health grounds. Reports suggest Botnar is keen to travel to the UK to pursue his action.

But former Revenue investigators doubted if the action would proceed due to Botnar’s ill-health. One told Accountancy Age: ‘I can’t imagine Brown or Cawdron ever doing anything wrong. The whole attack by Botnar is by a dying man wanting to do something with his remaining time.

‘The notion the Revenue acted improperly in the raid is helping to keep him alive.’

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