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Five jailed for £100m tax scheme scam exploiting celebrities

Five men have been jailed for a £100 million tax scheme which conned hundreds of celebrities.


Richards and Gold were both jailed for 11 years and Whiston-Dew received a 10-year sentence. Demetriou was sentenced for six years and Anwyl was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

The convictions mark the end of 10 year investigation into the five men. 

During a nine month trial Southwark Crown Court heard how much of the structure was deliberately incorporated in offshore jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands and the Island of Nevis, often through the agency of Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, with the intention of ensuring its secrecy.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the scheme attempted to deceive HM Revenus & Customs (HMRC) into believing that the overall project was much larger than it was, and into granting false tax relief. 

The schemes generated apparent 'losses' of £269.8 million, which they said had been spent on research and development.

This put HMRC at risk of losing approximately £107million in tax as the defendants siphoned off large sums of money. 

The CPS said the defendants lied about the nature of their companies - first to HMRC and professional financial advisors and then to a judge of the First Tier Tax Tribunal.

Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, said: ‘This was a major attack on the tax revenue of the UK. This type of criminal activity effectively picks the pocket of every citizen and taxpayer and is rightly pursued by the CPS and our partners with the utmost rigour.

‘The scheme was carefully planned and created by these men who used their reputations to promote it.

She added: ‘The complex nature of the fraud meant that a large international investigation was needed to unpick the financial trail. The CPS worked very closely with HMRC and foreign authorities from an early stage, and over a number of years, to gather compelling evidence.’

The disclosure process in this case involved large volumes of digital material, which comprised approximately seven terabytes of data which equates to around five million electronic documents and files.

Saunders added: 'The current law on disclosure was implemented prior to the digital age, at a time when unused material was in paper form. Disclosure has been a significant issue during this case, causing the first trial to be brought to an end, and the management of unused material was a major challenge for the prosecution throughout.

‘Despite these challenges and following careful presentation of the evidence to the court, the jury has convicted the defendants and they must now face the consequences of their actions.'

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4 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Nov 14, 2017 at 00:51

It sees it is safer to put our one in one of the recognised tax havens in British dependencies, like our top people do.

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John Hicks

Nov 14, 2017 at 16:35

9 month trial, 5 million documents. What an exhausting prospect an appeal would be.

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Nov 18, 2017 at 12:30

How long were the prison sentences we are not told! One week or two?

The scandal is not that there are aristocratic crooks, but that there are complex schemes deliberately left for rich people to exploit. It is glaringly obvious that anything very complex is a tax dodge and It is our law makers who should be sent to jail for creating these loopholes.

Furthermore, any one convicted of tax fraud should be additionally billed with the cost of the investigation and the higher the social position of the crook, the stiffer the sentence should be, for setting a bad example.

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Nov 20, 2017 at 13:00

Details of the custodial sentences would have been helpful. Who is responsible for the back-taxes? the advisors or the investors?

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