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News Release from Comptroller Susan Combs

For Immediate Release
June 16, 2009

Combs Names Top Tax Fugitives
New Web Page Spotlights Tax Law Enforcement

(AUSTIN) — They have fled from millions of dollars in state taxes, but Texas Comptroller Susan Combs expects Yousef  Abuteir, Tao Lu and Hisham Elbanhawy to one day be held accountable for tax fraud. 

"Texas is not a haven for tax evaders," Combs said. "We treat tax fraud as a serious crime with serious consequences for those who break the law.  They not only rob the state, they increase taxes for everyone and make it harder for honest businesses to compete."

Abuteir was convicted of $4.5 million in motor fuel tax evasion. He jumped bond prior to a jury sentencing him to seven years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Lu was indicted for cigarette tax fraud costing the state more than $23,000 in revenue. He has, so far, avoided arrest.  Elbanhawy is under indictment for 12 counts of tampering with a governmental record in a case involving motor vehicle tax fraud, but he fled before trial.

The three men are among Texas’ top tax evaders and are featured on a new Web page, http://www.window.state.tx.us/about/cid/tax_fugitives/, highlighting the work of the Comptroller’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).  The division investigates major tax fraud cases involving sophisticated schemes to dodge sales, motor fuel, tobacco and other taxes.

Combs hopes the Web site will serve as an additional resource local law enforcement and prosecutors can utilize when investigating and building cases against criminal activity in their jurisdictions.

The Web site informs the public about tax crimes and penalties, allows online reporting of suspected tax fraud and highlights indictments and convictions.  It also encourages cooperative efforts by state, federal and local law enforcement to bring tax evaders to justice.

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