Former Sunderland nightclub boss hit with £1million bill for unpaid taxes and fines


The downfall of a former rave club boss and fugitive would seem complete after he was hit with a bill for over £1 million in unpaid tax and fines.

Gary Robb, who listed Sunderland's former Blue Monkey venue among the North East clubs he used to own, reaped up to £10,000-a-week in door money from the Colosseum Club on Teesside in the 1990s.

HM Revenue and Customs

HM Revenue and Customs

Despite keeping his head down in Northern Cyprus for a dozen years, he eventually served five years in jail for allowing drug dealing at the venue.

A sum of £1.5 million he tried to spirit away from Cyprus to Thailand was intercepted by the National Crime Agency and has already been seized.

And now he has lost an appeal against a back-tax bill totalling almost £620,000. He will also have to cover late payment penalties of more than £430,000.

Claims that he worked "simply as a rent collector", and had little to do with the club's management, were rejected by a tax tribunal.

Robb was arrested after the Colosseum was shut down by Cleveland police in 1996 but absconded to Cyprus where he was to spend the next 12 years.

Whilst there, he was involved in lucrative property development schemes, including contruction of a hotel, flats, shops and a nightclub.

Tribunal judge, Jonathan Cannan, described how, in July 2005, he tried to shift £1.5 million from his Cypriot bank account to Thailand.

But the cash was routed via London and swiftly seized by wide-awake law enforcers.

He was finally arrested in Cyprus and, in July 2010, pleaded guilty to permitting the Colosseum to be used for drug dealing.

He was handed a five-year jail term and, on his release in 2012, was extradited to Cyprus where he served another 10-month sentence.

Whilst living on the sun-soaked island, Robb received door receipts from the Colosseum of £5-10,000-a-week but never paid a penny in tax.

And the National Crime Agency stepped into the shoes of HM Revenue and Customs to recover what he owed.

His brother, James Robb, who served 12 years jail for allowing drug dealing at the Colosseum - backed his claim that he was not involved in managing the club.

But Judge Cannan told the First-tier Tribunal: "We do not consider that James Robb's evidence is cogent or reliable.

"It is not independent, coming as it does from Gary Robb's brother."

He added: "We have found that Gary Robb was entitled to door money from the Colosseum...

"The one thing he has consistently acknowledged and has not denied is that he has failed to pay tax on his income."

The estimate of the tax he owed, and the size of the penalty, were "justified" and not "disproportionate", the judge concluded.