The UK’s most wanted woman is to be extradited from Spain for VAT fraud

Britain's most wanted woman is to be extradited from Spain over £1,000,000,000 VAT fraud

Sarah Panitzke, originally from York, previously evaded capture for years (Image: SWNS)

The UK’s ‘Most Wanted Woman’ is flown back to the UK to serve a prison sentence.

Sarah Panitzke, 48, had asked Spanish judges to reject an extradition request that would have resulted in her serving her prison time in the UK.

She had claimed the right to serve her sentence in Spain given her strong ties to her “adopted country”.

Her lawyers also said her husband, who also lives in Spain, has a life expectancy of just 10 years due to a liver transplant.

They argued that he would not be able to visit her in the UK if she was extradited.

But the judges dismissed the claim and the 48-year-old will soon be flown back to the UK to complete her sentence.

The date for her return has not yet been set.

Panitzke had been accused Money laundering via companies in Spain, Andorra and Dubai for a group that bought mobile phones abroad without VAT and resold them in the UK.

The arrest of Sarah Panitzke on Sunday morning in Santa Barbara, Tarragona [27 February] by the Spanish Guardia Civil. See SWNS story SWLEwanted. Britain's most wanted woman involved in a €1billion VAT fraud gang has been caught by cops in Spain - walking her dog. Holidaymakers from the UK have been asked to help in the capture of fraudster Sarah Panitzke, 47, of Fulford near York, in a recent appeal for information on the whereabouts of fugitive murderers, sex offenders and drug dealers. A money launderer involved in a €1 billion cell phone tax scam and one of the National Crime Agency's most wanted fugitives has been arrested in Spain. Sarah Panitzke, aged 47 and originally from Fulford, near York, was arrested while walking her dogs in Santa Barbara, Tarragona, on Sunday morning [27 February] by the Spanish Civil Guard in an operation supported by HM Revenue & Customs.

Panitzke was arrested by the Spanish Guardia Civil in Tarragona in February (Image: NCA/SWNS)

She had previously evaded arrest by the police for years.

The scammer disappeared in May 2013 while on trial for an elaborate money laundering scam.

she was convicted and sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison.

Panitzke, originally from Fulford near York, was traced back to a town near Barcelona in 2015.

But she was able to escape in disguise after getting wind of the impending police operation.

In February, the authorities caught up with the fugitive again – this time in the small Spanish town of Santa Barbara in Tarragona.

Undated picture of Sarah Panitzke, 42, from a new call by Crimestoppers, who is among the 10 most wanted UK criminals believed to be hiding in Spain. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Issue date: Thursday October 20, 2016. See PA story POLICE Spain. Photo credit should read: Crimestoppers/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to concurrently depict events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo's caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The 48-year-old was once among Britain’s 10 most wanted criminals (Image: PA)

After weeks of surveillance The 48-year-old was arrested by an elite police team while walking her dogs.

Panitze’s high-profile arrest in February had made headlines in Spain and Britain as she was the only woman on the National Crime Agency’s Most Wanted List.

It was revealed today that before her arrest she had been living with the fake ID of an “Antonietta Argiulo” for seven years.

She had evaded police arrest in a three-bed duplex on the outskirts of the city of Santa Barbara, in the province of Tarragona.

Panitzke had attended York College for Girls before transferring to the fee-paying St. Peter’s School.

She studied Spanish at Manchester Metropolitan University before pursuing a Masters in Business Management in Barcelona.

Following her arrest, Simon York, Director of Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “

“Sarah Panitzke was one of Britain’s most wanted tax evaders.

“She played a crucial role in a multi-million pound VAT fraud, moving millions through offshore bank accounts.

“Panitzke thought she had strayed out of HMRC’s reach, but through our work with UK law enforcement and international partners we have tracked down another tax evader.

‘No tax criminal is beyond our reach.’

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Justin Scacco

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