A PROPERTY magnate from Canons Park who laundered at least £13.8m with an Ealing lawyer has been jailed for seven years.

John Donnan, 52, of Watersfield Way, ran a series of bogus companies with his solicitor, Gerard Hyde, 55, of Priory Gardens, allowing friends to operate a 16-month VAT fraud.

The firms imported mobile phones tax free but sold them on with an extra 17.5 per cent profit, which was then shared with Donnan and Hyde.

Judge James Wadsworth told Donnan: "It is clear from the evidence in this case that there was a worldwide VAT fraud of enormous proportions that deprived the taxpayer of something in the order of £30m.

"You are not charged with complicity of that fraud but it is clear that, if not from the beginning, you became close to those that were involved in it.

"I am satisfied that you played a major part in laundering that cash."

While £13.8m has been traced to his bank account, it is believed he took as much as £16.5m.

Donnan lived a life of luxury at the expense of the taxpayer by allowing the fraudsters running the revenue scam to use his offshore company bank accounts to launder the cash.

Hyde, a solicitor for more than 25 years, used his firm's accounts and a bank account on the Isle of Man to help with the operation.

He pleaded guilty to laundering £2m in May last year and was jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Judge Wadsworth said Donnan had been the "paymaster" to the criminals running the VAT fraud and was responsible for passing them some of the profit as a "reward".

He said: "The laundering you carried out was extremely sophisticated and went on for some 20 months.

"There were a lot of forged documents and a lot of major lies told to financial institutions and advisors for the express purpose of defrauding them."

Prosecutor David Cocks QC said the fraud involved a series of EU phone suppliers, most of whom were based in Ireland.

He said: "The amount traceable to Donnan from this fraud to his account is about £13.8m."

Donnan initially denied the charges and faced a trial last year.

But the jury was discharged after he became ill and was taken to hospital suffering from high blood pressure.

He later admitted his role in the money laundering scam.

Donnan was also banned from acting as a company director for the next eight years.