Following an investigation by HMRC, a group of film producers, accountants, financial advisors and investment bankers have been jailed for more than 36 years after attempting to cheat HMRC out of £2.2m using a scheme which involved claiming false tax rebates.
The film partnerships they had involvement in claimed to have spent £5.7m and also had significant losses on ‘Starsuckers’ and ‘Mercedes the Movie’ both of which were UK film projects. The losses meant that the investors could claim back approximately £40,000 in tax relief for every £20,000 that had been invested.
HMRC investigators discovered a number of suspicious tax rebate claims, which were born out of two fraudulent tax avoidance schemes set up by Terence Potter, an accountant based in Monaco. Potter supported these claims by providing false documents
Potter assisted by Neil Williams-Denton, an independent financial advisor, promoted avoidance schemes providing false documents in a bid to make the schemes look legitimate.
Three investment bankers, Phillip Jenkins, James Hyde, and Hamish MacLellan, were each convicted of one count of Conspiracy to Cheat the Public Revenue, and sentenced to thirteen and half years in prison, collectively.
In the latest trial, two independent film producers, Chris Walsh Atkins, and Christina Slater, were convicted of Conspiracy to Cheat the Public Revenue, theft and fraud and sentenced to a total of nine years in prison. Their role in the fraud was to circulate money and produce falsely inflated invoices.
Investigations to recover further proceeds of the crime are under way.
Simon York, director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service said: “This was an audacious attempt to defraud HMRC and was motivated by the pure greed of dishonest and wealthy individuals. The majority of those involved in this fraud had no interest in the film industry, or regard for the impact of their criminality on honest taxpayers.
“After painstaking and complex work from our investigators, and a series of long trials, HMRC has dismantled the fraudulent operation, and shown that we have the intent and capability to bring criminals to justice regardless of their resources.”