Two advisers have been found guilty of tax fraud in a £100m film industry scam that attracted investors including footballers, investment bankers and a pop star.
London-based advisers Robert Bevan and Anthony Charles Savill, and accountant Keith Hayley set up a company called Little Wing Films to develop film projects.
Little Wing said that for every £100,000 invested higher rate taxpayers would get £130,000 in tax repayments from HMRC.
More than 275 investors put more than £76m into the scheme.
Hayley, Bevan and Savill claimed to have spent more than £250m on pre-production and development packages for films made in Monaco. However, an HMRC investigation found these packages cost £4m and were created in Little Wing’s offices in London.
The group falsely inflated expenses to more than £275m adding to the scheme’s financial losses, which enabled investors to collectively claim around £100m in tax repayments. HMRC is seeking to recover these repayments from the investors.
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.
Norman Leighton, an accountant and corporate services provider based in Monaco, helped create the pretence that more than £250m was being spent on genuine activity in Monaco.
Hayley, Savill, Bevan and Leighton were found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court and are due to be sentenced at the same court on 24 June 2016.