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‘Baroness Bra’ Michelle Mone’s billionaire husband CLEARED in Spanish embezzlement and tax fraud trial

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MICHELLE Mone’s husband was told today he was cleared of any wrongdoing following his Spanish embezzlement and tax fraud trial.

Scottish billionaire businessman Doug Barrowman, 58, was facing up to five and a half years in jail after being accused of taking part in a multi-million tax evasion scam.

Doug Barrowman looked glum in court today

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Doug Barrowman looked glum in court todayCredit: Solarpix
The Scottish businessman is married to Tory peer Michelle Mone

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The Scottish businessman is married to Tory peer Michelle MoneCredit: Getty

But the threat of jail hanging over his head was lifted today after he learnt he had been acquitted of all charges.

The other six British businessmen put in the dock alongside the husband of the bra tycoon were also declared innocent by the three judges.

The trial took place at a court in the Spanish port city of Santander over six days at the end of January and the start of February.

The misappropriation and tax fraud charges against them were linked to a 2008 cable factory purchase.

Barrowman was one of the two largest shareholders in their now-defunct company B3 Cable Solutions Spain which bought the plant.

The prosecution case focused on a July 2008 £5.3 million payment by the cable firm to a “linked” UK company called Axis Ventura which Barrowman founded and several of the defendants were directors of.

A public prosecutor alleged in court Barrowman and five of his associates pocketed the six-figure sum through an invoice for consultancy services she said they inflated or never provided.

She also alleged all seven defendants including the 59-year-old husband of scandal-embroiled Tory baroness Mone had defrauded the Spanish Treasury by claiming tax relief on part of the six-figure ‘consultancy fee’ in B3 Cable’s 2009 annual return.

Barrowman admitted to playing a “senior” role in the £16 million purchase of the French-owned cable factory in Maliano near Santander when he gave evidence on day two of the trial.

He told the court he had resigned as an Axis Ventura director and sold his shares in the company two months before the factory purchase went through.

Many of the defendants used their time on the stand to refute public prosecutor claims’ Axis representatives did no work on the deal and the invoice was a fabrication to illegitimately extract money from the cable firm.

The other men tried alongside Glasgow-born Barrowman were Paul Ruocco, Mark Price Williams, David Powell, Timothy Eve, Michael Walton and Stephen Ellis.

Ellis is the only one of the seven who had the misappropriation charge against him dropped before the end of the trial.

The three judges released their ruling in a 26-page written document made public late today.

They said there was “abundant documentation” relating to negotiations between the intermediary company Axis and the cable factory’s former owners, making it clear services were provided.

And although they described the sum paid to Axis as “disproportionate” given the factory purchase cost and described the operation as “strange” and “hardly compatible” with B3 Cable’s interests, they said that did not necessarily imply any criminal wrongdoing.

They added: “The prosecution accusation was based specifically on the non-existence of services. The possibility of the criminal consideration of an excessive or disproportionate payment hasn’t been touched on.”

Of the alleged crime against the Spanish Treasury they said that although the tax relief claimed could be considered very high, it was “acceptable.”

They also ruled it hadn’t been proved money paid to Axis had ended up in an offshore account as prosecutors alleged.

It was not immediately clear last night if the prosecutors who took the men to court would appeal their acquittal.

Lingerie tycoon Michelle Mone, currently on a House of Lords ‘leave of absence’ amid an ongoing UK probe into alleged Covid PPE fraud involving her and her husband, opted to stay away from the trial at Santander’s Audiencia Provincial court.

The controversial couple had POUNDS 75 million of assets frozen or restrained under a court order obtained by the CPS as part of the National Crime Agency’s probe into PPE Medpro, a company led by Barrowman.

The Spanish court case which ended at the start of last month marked a new chapter in a long-running saga which initially saw Barrowman and his business partners cleared of blame over the October 2012 bankruptcy of the cable factory they bought in May 2008 with bank finance.

A commercial court ruled in September 2016 the bankruptcy, which cost 213 workers their jobs, was “fortuitous” and not “culpable.”

Barrowman and his business partners were charged after a separate criminal probe which started before their civil court exoneration.

The Scot, who prosecutors wanted jailed for three years if convicted of misappropriation and two and a half years if found guilty of the tax crime, only answered questions from his own lawyer when he took the stand.

He and his co-defendants were given permission to return to the UK after they had all been questioned on day two of the trial, which finished on February 8 before the judges retired to consider their verdicts.

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