The National Crime Agency has secured assets worth an estimated £1.1 million, after an NCA tax investigation into a Derby man revealed that his family run business had avoided paying tax for 18 years, on profits suspected of being linked to drugs and other criminal activity.
Tonino (otherwise known as Tony) Persico, 58, of the Sinfin area in Derby, and members of the wider Persico family, operated ice cream vans and rented industrial units on Osmaston Road.
A Derbyshire Police investigation looked at the family of Mr Persico after suspicions were raised about links to drugs, fraud and money laundering, which resulted in the conviction of his sister for conspiracy to produce cannabis in 2013.
Acting on the suspicion that significant income had been generated through criminal conduct, the NCA adopted the functions of HMRC to investigate. This investigation determined that Mr Persico received rental and other income from industrial units at 555 Osmaston Road, Derby and that a total of £1,135,857.82 of unpaid income tax, National Insurance payments, interest and penalties was payable for the tax years 1996/1997 to 2013/2014. Mr Persico did not respond to the NCA’s claim and, on 1 November 2017, the NCA obtained a default judgment from the Court.
In the absence of any payment of the judgment from Mr Persico, the NCA applied to the High Court to enforce the debt against assets believed to belong to him. This was despite the fact that ownership of those assets involved various complex ownership structures. One such company was Osmaston Business Park Ltd, which Mr Persico’s niece became the sole shareholder of at the age of 16. In the High Court the NCA alleged that Osmaston Business Park Ltd was, in fact, owned by her uncle, Mr Persico.
On 21 December 2021, the High Court handed down its judgment in this matter and granted the NCA a final charging order over the property located at 555 Osmaston Road.
In her judgment, Mrs Justice Foster DBE stated that the case fell fair and square into the “concealment” category, that the true beneficial owner of the property was Tony Persico and she granted the Charging Order over the property in satisfaction of the tax debt. The NCA has already previously obtained Charging Orders over three other properties located at 555 Osmaston Road in which Mr Persico held an interest, in satisfaction of his tax debt.