Britain's 'most wanted' woman arrested in Spain after a decade at large

1 March 2022, 19:01

Sarah Panitzke, 47, was arrested in Spain
Sarah Panitzke, 47, was arrested in Spain. Picture: HMRC

By Daisy Stephens

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives has been arrested in Spain whilst walking her dogs, after being on the run for nearly ten years.

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Sarah Panitzke, the only woman ever to be put on Britain's most wanted list, was a money launderer involved in a £1b tax fraud.

The 47-year-old was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison, but had been on the run since May 2013, when she absconded during her trial.

She was arrested on Sunday morning in the small town of Santa Barbara near the Catalan coast as she walked her two dogs.

Spain's Guardia Civil said family ties allowed her to hide in Spain - but she fled, changed her appearance and cut off physical connection with her family due to a failed arrest attempt after police tracked her down in 2015.

But then in February this year investigators received a lead that she was hiding in Santa Barbara.

Panitzke was arrested while walking her dogs
Panitzke was arrested while walking her dogs. Picture: HMRC

Simon York, director at the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said Panitzke, originally from York, was "one of Britain’s most wanted tax fugitives".

“She played a pivotal role in a multi-million pound VAT fraud and moved millions through offshore bank accounts," he said.

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International Deputy Director of the National Crime Agency (NCA) Tom Dowdall, said the NCA would now seek her extradition back to the UK to serve her prison sentence.

"This should serve as a warning to others on our most wanted list," he said.

"We will not rest until you are captured, no matter how long it takes."

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