Chartered accountant and ringleader Terence Sefton Potter, 57, who is currently serving eight years in prison for setting up and promoting a number of fraudulent schemes to wealthy professionals, has been ordered to repay more than £1.8 million.
Film producers Christopher Walsh Atkins, 41, from London, and Christina Slater, 38, from Leamington Spa, have been ordered to pay back more than £201,000 or face another two years in prison and independent financial advisor Neil Williams-Denton, 43, of Greater Manchester, has been ordered to repay £36,000.
Simon York, Director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said:
“These people have already lost their liberty, after HMRC uncovered their audacious attempt to steal money that honest taxpayers across the UK have paid to fund public services. We have now gone further and ensured these criminals must pay back what they stole or face even more time behind bars and will still have to pay the money back.
“However far criminals go to hide the proceeds of their crimes we pursue every penny to ensure that tax crime never pays.”
A five year-long investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found the gang of professionals devised and promoted the multi-million pound fraud in order to claim tax rebates linked to contrived investments in film-making partnerships. The group claimed to have spent £5.7 million and made significant losses on two UK film projects but HMRC investigators discovered a series of suspicious tax rebate claims, supported by faked invoices, account records and bogus diary entries.
Each member of the gang had a role in either promoting the scheme to high earning investment bankers, producing false documents or circulating money. Three others - investment bankers Philip Jenkins, James Hyde and Hamish MacLellan - also received prison sentences for their part in the fraud.
Potter set up two partnerships that were sold to the wealthy investors. One produced a film called 'Starsuckers', the other was a project to develop a package to be made into a film by others called 'Mercedes the Movie'. The partnership declared the losses in its tax return and so did the investors, which would have allowed them to recoup up to £40,000 in tax relief from HMRC, for every £20,000 they had invested. However, as the scheme was illegal their claim for tax relief was false. The claims were supported by false documents produced by Potter.