CompaniesDec 3 2015

Adviser convicted of evading more than £6m in tax

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Adviser convicted of evading more than £6m in tax

A tax adviser and accountant to the media industry has been convicted for evading more than £6m in tax.

Dennis Christopher Carter Lunn, known as Christopher, ran Sussex-based accountancy firm Christopher Lunn & Co, whose 7,000-plus clients included many from the media and entertainment worlds.

The firm was investigated by HM Revenue & Customs and in 2010 the premises in Crowborough were searched, with Mr Lunn arrested.

HMRC uncovered evidence of a range of serious offences, which included the inflating of accountancy fees and the fraudulent use of trading losses; all intended to help him and his clients evade paying their fair share of tax.

In February 2011, Christopher Lunn & Co won the first of two judicial reviews launched against the government body, after Mr Justice Kenneth Parker ruled in favour of the firm and quashed the decision, with Mr Lunn stating he would claim damages.

However, Mr Lunn then stood trial at Southwark Crown Court in September 2013, charged with six counts of cheating the public revenue. In January 2014, he was acquitted on two charges, while the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the remaining four.

However, after five years of detailed investigation, HMRC finally saw Lunn convicted at the retrial, where a jury found him guilty of four counts of cheating the public revenue. He will be sentenced on 6 January 2016.

Simon York, director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC said that this long-running investigation has already recovered £20m, as Mr Lunn’s former clients settle their tax liabilities, with more to come.

“I hope this result serves as a reminder to those who try to cheat the public purse – particularly those in the tax profession – that no one is above the law and that HMRC will relentlessly pursue tax evaders to bring them before the courts.”

As Mr Lunn’s clients were unaware of his actions, they have been offered a chance to put things right for themselves, by paying any tax and interest due. Any client who has not yet come forward pending the outcome of the trial is encouraged to speak to HMRC to bring their affairs up to date.

Mr Lunn’s son, Christopher Jonathan Lunn (Jon), who also worked at the firm, was convicted in December 2014 on six counts under the Fraud Act, after he had sent false invoices to HMRC to try to cover up the fraud in the practice.

Sentencing is due in court later this week or next week and confiscation proceedings are being considered to reclaim any financial gain obtained as a result of this criminal activity.