Comedians and sports stars conned in tax fraud
AN ETON and Oxford educated man helped con celebrities into believing they were investing in a tax-efficient eco-scheme, a court has heard. In fact, it was one of Britain’s biggest tax frauds.
Jonathan Anwyl, 44, helped convince the rich and famous they could cut their tax bills by investing in ethical environmental projects. Led by Michael Richards, 55, an environmental scientist and Cambridge graduate, the scam persuaded 730 celebrities, including comedians and sports stars, to invest in research and development reforestation projects in Brazil and China.
In reality the organisers were siphoning off huge sums into secret accounts in Holland and Switzerland, Southwark Crown Court was told.
Investors told they would be eligible for tax relief were encouraged to claim back £107.92 million. HMRC is now recouping the tax.
Richards made £7.4 million from the scam, buying a £1.7m property, a £32,000 engagement ring and a £20,000 plaque in memory of his father to be erected at Gonville & Caius College.
Other defendants bought a £2.4million villa in Dubai and a £2million Sussex barn conversion.
Anwyl and Richards ran the fraud using a company called Carbon Positive Trading. Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca was paid to set up the two firms, which were registered in the British Virgin Isles.
Anwyl, from Ringmer, East Sussex, the son of a retired Crown Court judge, used his £1.6million profits to pay off a property in Australia, which he owned with his French wife, Anne.
Of the £65 million from investors, only a quarter was actually spent by CPT. The rest was siphoned into a secret Swiss account and from there it was dispersed by the defendants. Investors meanwhile, were encouraged to claim tax relief.
It took 10 years to bring the case through the courts, including a 10-month trial that cost the taxpayer millions of pounds.
Richards was sent to jail for 11 years and Anwyl was given five years.
Others involved in the scam and jailed were Rodney Whiston-dew, 67, a solicitor; business consultant Eudoros Demetriou, 77; businessman Robert Gold, 49; and his father Malcom, 73.
Jonathan Anwyl, 44, told investors their money was supporting ethical projects