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Domecq sentenced to 10 years for theft, tax fraud

Drinks multi-millionaire Michael Domecq has been sentenced to 10 years for stealing more than US$14.6m from his own company – and tax fraud.

He has also been ordered to pay back more than US$4.5m.

According to reports, Domecq’s crimes were so complex that sentencing was delayed for two months in order to give him time to complete 17 years of tax returns.

The former president and co-owner of New York-based Domecq Importers, fled to Spain as US tax investigators and the FBI closed in on him during the late 1990s.

He and his family sold their drinks companies to Allied Lyons, subsequently renamed Allied Domecq, in 1994 for US$1.1bn, but he remained president of Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine, Latin America, after the sale.

He was indicted in 2000 but not arrested until he arrived in the UK at Luton Airport on a false passport in September last year.

Following his extradition to the US, Domecq, 59, pleaded guilty to the charges in June this year. He was given two consecutive five-year prison sentences yesterday (18 December).

Three former senior executives at Domecq Importers – CFO Alfredo Valdes, VP marketing Gabriel Sagaz and VP sales Thomas Kaminsky – had earlier admitted their parts in the conspiracy and received sentences of up to five years.

The group persuaded outside companies to provide false purchase orders and invoices for goods and services, channelling the money into offshore bank accounts controlled by the conspirators.

Prosecutors said Domecq, who dreamt up the scheme with Valdes, was the prime mover behind it, despite being an extremely wealthy man with several homes in Europe.

‘Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences and the obstructive conduct committed by the defendant while attempting to escape US jurisdiction,’ said Thomas O Barnett, assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice.

Written by Richard Woodard, and agencies

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