Two advisers have been jailed for nine years each for their involvement in a £100m film industry tax scam.
Advisers Robert Bevan and Anthony Savill and accountant Keith Hayley received nine-year sentences after creating the scheme that was disguised as a film development venture called Little Wing Films.
Monaco-based accountant Norman Leighton was handed a two-year suspended sentence for assisting in creating the pretence that more than £250m was being spent on film packages in Monaco when actually they cost £4m and were created in London.
Little Wing said that for every £100,000 invested higher rate taxpayers would get £130,000 in tax repayments from HM Revenue & Customs. More than 275 investors put more than £76m into the scheme.
HMRC fraud investigation service director Simon York said: “This was a complex investigation in which great work by HMRC officers uncovered a web of offshore companies, fake transactions and a series of lies.”
He adds: “The fraud was a deliberate attempt to steal from the taxpayer, as well as investors who now face hefty tax bills. These fraudsters were already wealthy individuals who thought they could get away with it – now they are paying the price behind bars.”
Little Wing also set up offshore companies to hide the fraud arranging for companies to be registered in the British Virgin Islands that supposedly operated in Monaco, Geneva and the Channel Islands and were fronted by friends in the Philippines and Kolkata.
However, the investigation found that those companies did little more than pass investor funds through their bank accounts, from one to another numerous times, to inflate the amount invested and therefore the scheme’s losses.