A group of wealthy film tax fraudsters - including a Leamington woman - have been jailed after conning the government out of more than £2m.
The crooks included film producers, accountants, financial advisers and investment bankers who hatched elaborate scheme to cheat the tax system out of £2.2 million.
The seven conspirators were jailed for a total of 36 years after a trial in London last month.
Among them was Christina Slater, 37, Copps Road, Leamington who was sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, theft and fraud when she appeared in court last month.
Slater, a film producer, was also disqualified from acting as a company official for the next 12 years.
The group’s scheming was uncovered during a complex investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
This was an audacious attempt to defraud HMRC and was motivated by the pure greed of dishonest and wealthy individualsJennie Granger, HMRC
The wealthy professionals cooked up an elaborate scheme involving claiming false tax rebates linked to contrived investments in film-making partnerships.
The false partnerships claimed to have spent £5.7m and made significant financial losses on two film projects, Starsuckers and Mercedes the Movie. These fabricated losses enabled the wealthy investors to falsely claim back around £40,000 in tax relief for every £20,000 they had invested.
It was later sound that the claims all originated from two fraudulent tax avoidance schemes set up and managed by Monaco-based accountant, Terence Potter, 56.
Jennie Granger from HMRC said: “After painstaking and complex work from our investigators, and a series of long trials, HMRC dismantled the fraudulent operation.
“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.
“The long sentences handed down send a powerful message to those tempted to deceive HMRC. Nobody is beyond our reach.”
During a trial at Southwark Crown Court, the court heard that Potter not only devised and promoted the schemes to wealthy professionals, he produced false documents in a bid to make the schemes look legitimate.
He was assisted by independent financial adviser, Neil Williams-Denton, 42, who also promoted the schemes to high earning investment bankers.
Three investment bankers, Phillip Jenkins, 51, James Hyde, 43, and Hamish MacLellan 43, were each convicted of one count of Conspiracy to Cheat the Public Revenue, and sentenced to thirteen and half years in prison, collectively.
The gang members were arrested in 2012 when 18 properties were searched and computers, business records and mobile phones were seized.