Financial planner guilty of tax evasion

Financial planner guilty of tax evasion

Martin Adrian King, a 56-year-old financial planner from Oakfield Gardens in Beckenham, Greater London, has admitted to tax evasion.

On Monday (February 25) at Southwark Crown Court, King pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of £235,000 income tax.

King hid his true income by arranging payment of work he did with a business executive through an offshore company. 

The executive, Antony Clive Blakey, 68 - a director of Ethical Trading and Marketing Ltd -  was convicted of tax offences in relation to what was labelled by HM Revenue & Customs as a fraudulent tax avoidance scheme claiming to invest in HIV research and conservation.

King was acquitted of all charges in relation to the fraudulent scheme devised by Blakey.

King used companies registered in the Seychelles and bank accounts in Cyprus to hide his personal income and evade tax.

He was handed an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years.

On the same day reporting restrictions were lifted to reveal two other men,  involved in Blakey's fraudulent investment were jailed for a total of 14-and-a-half years.

Blakey, and finance director, John Banyard, 70, enticed wealthy people to invest in the scheme with the promise of avoiding tax by supporting tree planting in the Amazon and research into an HIV cure.

The pair were aided by world renowned conservation scientist Professor Ian Richard Swingland, 72, who joined the fraud to help create the fake documents and add credibility to the scheme.

An investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) found those behind the scheme created false documents to fraudulently claim expenses.

They submitted fake scientific reports to HMRC and photos to support their claims but there was no evidence any of this had actually taken place.

The scheme was sold as a marketed investment opportunity when in fact it was fraud masquerading as avoidance.

Investors were able to claim tax rebates on the losses that the businesses apparently generated, or lower their tax bills, by offsetting losses against £160m of income, attempting to avoid £60m in tax.

But the majority of repayments claimed were withheld by HMRC.

Simon York, director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: "This was a calculated and cynical crime carried out by men who had no shame in using a worthy cause like HIV research to mask their criminality.

"In doing so, they attempted to steal millions of pounds from the taxpaying public - money that ultimately pays for vital public services like the NHS.

"Promoting tax avoidance schemes is bad enough and we're making it a priority to go after those who market them, but for these men that was just a first step in establishing an elaborate criminal operation that included offshore accounts, fake transactions and blatant lies.

"To those who would follow in their footsteps, I would say this case sends a clear message that no matter how well you think you’ve covered your tracks, no one is beyond our reach and you will face justice."