Wine fraudster, 61, who was jailed in Italy after he went on the run following conviction in UK for dodging £46m in tax has been freed after four years behind bars, court hears

  • Livio Mazzarello, 61, sentenced in his absence over £46m London wine fraud
  • He fled to escape his 14-year sentence in jail for his crimes.
  • Today, however, it emerged that he actually had returned to his home country of Italy.
  • He was sentenced to four years imprisonment by the authorities.
  • After fleeing from his captors, fate has allowed him to be free and roam freely in Alessandria

A fugitive £46.5million wine fraudster who fled the UK before he was sentenced to 14 years escaped the majority of his sentence – after birth country Italy slashed his term.

Livio Mazzarolello, aged 61, skipped bail at his Old Bailey trial, 2017 and made it to Genoa.

Mazzarello of Cricklewood sent an email to “the most illustrious Judge” claiming that he had to see his mother, but had not been seen in a while.

One count of fraud evasion of VAT was brought against him and he was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in August. 

The mystery surrounding his disappearance was solved today at the Proceeds Of Crime Act hearing held at London’s Old Bailey.

Philip Katz, QC was told by an Italian court that it had ‘taken over the enforcement of the sentence’, and the term for the fraudster was reduced to eight years.

This meant Mazzarello, who had served less than four years behind bars, was released from Genoa Prison in June

David Hughes, the prosecutor told the judge that they had taken over enforcement of the sentence. However, at the time of indictment, the offense of money laundering for which he was convicted was not an Italian offence.

Livio Mazzarello, 61, had been  sentenced in his absence over £46m London wine fraud

Livio Mazzarello, 61, had been  sentenced in his absence over £46m London wine fraud

The Italian Wine Company Ltd, based in Neasden was where Mazzarello carried out the fraud

Mazzarello was a victim of fraud committed by the Italian Wine Company Ltd in Neasden

‘The sentence for money laundering was knocked off and the sentence for VAT was less in Italy than in the United Kingdom.

‘It transpires that Mr Mazzarello was released from prison in the Genoa region on the 21st of June 2021 and his release under Italian law is with conditions.

‘There are conditions as to an address that he is to reside at in a placed called Lerma in the Alessandria region. It is possible to stay and sleep in the area under certain conditions.

‘He has also a condition not to leave the province of Alessandria without the leave of the sentencing supervising judge.

‘It has been discovered that tomorrow, the 10th of November, in Genoa, there is a hearing before the sentencing supervisory judge to either confirm his release provision or to return him to prison.

‘So long as he has not been a bad boy since his release on the 21st of June the feedback I am getting is that it is more likely than not that the sentencing conditions will be confirmed and the sentence supervisory position will transfer from Genoa on Wednesday to Turin.’

Mazzarello pictured outside the Old Bailey back in 2017 before he fled from the UK

Mazzarello photographed outside the Old Bailey in 2017, before he fled the UK.

He sold cases under the counter for cash, which he then hid in the roof of the property

He then sold the cases for cash and hid them under the roof.

Mazzarello was behind a scheme to dodge excise duty almost for five years. This involved covering up millions of wines imported from Europe.

By selling the cases for cash at The Italian Wine Company, Neasden in northwest London, he avoided VAT.

It was able to avoid both VAT and excise duties in the UK by using fraud to sell wine to Star and Bestbuy.

The total loss to HMRC between June 2008 and March 2013 was £46,579,257.32.

Mazzarello will now face a confiscation hearing pursuant to the Proceeds of Crime Act, as prosecutors attempt to recover any assets or cash he may have.

Hughes said that Mazzarello was freed and could apply for travel permission in the United Kingdom, because there is no arrest warrant for him.

The confiscation hearing was rescheduled for Friday by Judge Katz to allow him time to present further evidence regarding any assets that he might have.

Mazzarello was convicted for fraudulent evasion and VAT fraud, as well as money laundering.