AN international businessman once accused of masterminding a massive VAT fraud has been forced to hand over £2.5 million in “dirty money”.

Former boxer Ronnie Decker has surrendered land, property, bank accounts, cash, jewellery and luxury Rolex watches to the Crown.

The Dubai-based entrepreneur did so in an out-of-court settlement with the Crown Office’s elite Civil Recovery Unit (CRU), which chases the ill-gotten gains of individuals who have not been convicted.

Mr Decker, who was born in Sierra Leone but educated in Scotland, had been fighting a forfeiture order obtained by the CRU in April 2016. The £2.5m settlement marks an end of that battle.

The CRU’s head, Denise McKay, said: “Ronnie Decker set out to line his own pockets and deny the public purse of millions of pounds through a systematic abuse of the VAT repayments system.

“Uncovering the fraud involved a financial investigation that spanned the globe and required the cooperation of numerous agencies in many different countries.”

The action against Mr Decker is one of the biggest and most complex of its kind ever taken by the Scottish Crown. Assets r ecovered were in several countries, including France and Antigua, the CRU said.

Mr Decker was previously accused of helping to organise a VAT fraud using a Glasgow firm called Q-Tech Distribution. The fraud was initially valued at more than £48m.

He did not show up for his trial at the High Court in Perth in 2008. A warrant was issued for his arrest but charges were later dropped. A director of Q-Tech, Mohammed Sarfraz Sattar, also faced proceeds of crime action. He eventually settled out of court and paid £1.27m.

Another man, Michael Voudouri, was jailed for 10 years in 2014 for his part in the VAT fraud. Voudouri, who was only jailed after he was extradited from North Cyprus, admitted laundering more than £10m through various jurisdictions.

Diamonds and designer watches taken from Mr Decker were sold at auction in London in December and raised more than £130,000. Other assets recovered include £82,000 found in cash in his house, more diamonds, a house valued at £380,000 and money from investments, bank accounts and a pension policy

The CRU said it worked alongside HMRC and authorities across the globe to examine bank accounts and other assets held in several countries.

Charlie Merrick, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, praised his organisation’s partnership with the CRU.

He said: “We are dedicated to ensuring that those who owe money to HMRC pay in full.”

CRU lawyers have to prove their case on the civil proof of “balance of probabilities” rather than the criminal one of “beyond reasonable doubt”.

The £2.5m from Mr Decker is not the biggest amounted recovered under proceeds of crime laws. It is dwarfed by £6.5m seized from Russian businessman Anatoly Kazachkov in 2010 and the £13.9m in dirty profits surrendered by Weir Group in the same year after it admitted criminal sanctions- busting in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Money raised from such actions – along with criminal proceeds of crime seizures – go to fund Scottish Government good causes around the country.