A Thessaloniki court yesterday handed a staggering life sentence to a local businessman for heading a fuel-smuggling ring that defrauded tax authorities of some 2.1 million euros in unpaid taxes and duties, in collusion with corrupt officials. Evangelos Isaakidis, 53, was found guilty of masterminding 158 shipments of fuel worth a total 2.1 million euros which were supposed to have been exported tax-free to Bulgaria. But, with the help of forged documents and bribed customs officials, the fuel never crossed the border and was sold under the counter to petrol stations in central Macedonia. The ring thus avoided paying some 1.6 million euros in taxes and dues. The court also sentenced Iraklis Anthemidis, 49, to 15 years in prison and customs official Christos Anastassiadis, 56, to seven years. A second customs official was acquitted. Anthemidis was also found guilty of another 48 shipments destined for Bulgaria, which never left Greece. This saved him over 500,000 euros in taxes and duties.