Snipes: `I Wasn't Running From Tax Evasion Charges'
Actor WESLEY SNIPES has broken his silence over his 2006 tax evasion scandal, denying allegations he tried to avoid charges by fleeing to Namibia. Snipes is due to stand trial in Florida in January (08), on charges he fraudulently claimed tax refunds of almost $12 million (GBP6 million) in 1996 and 1997. He is also accused of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2004. When the indictment was unsealed in October 2006, Snipes was shooting a movie, Gallowwalker, in Namibia - a country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with America. But the star flatly denies claims his failure to return to America immediately meant he was deliberately trying to avoid the charges against him. He says, "They positioned it like, `He's irresponsible, dangerous, guilty - this is why he's in Africa.' "People think I'm Nino Brown (Snipes' gangster character in 1991's New Jack City) or (vampire character) Blade. They think I'm an evil dude." And Snipes claims he has no idea why he has been charged, as he never received the tax refunds in the first place. He adds, "I never got a dime. I didn't defraud the government by taking money that was not mine. We never got it."