Tax fraudsters to pay £20m over fake eco-investments

Tax fraudsters to pay £20m over fake eco-investments

Five fraudsters sentenced to more than 43 years in prison for their part in a fake eco-investment scheme have been ordered to repay £20m to HMRC. 

The men targeted wealthy investors looking for a tax break in a £107.9m fraud which HM Revenue & Customs claimed was one of the biggest such frauds seen in the UK.

Michael Richards, 57, and Jonathan Anwyl, 46, both of East Sussex, Dubai-based Robert Gold, 51, Rodney Whiston-Dew, 68, from London, and Evdoros Chrysanthos Demetriou, 80, from Oxford, were sentenced to more than 43 years in November 2017.

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At the Old Bailey and Southwark Crown Court in October and December this year the fraudsters were ordered to pay a combined amount of £20m or face a further 39 years in prison.

HMRC said if it discovers any further assets belonging to the men in the future, they too could be confiscated to reimburse the money gained from the fraud. 

The taxman expects the men may have to cash in pensions and sell properties in both the UK and Dubai to settle the tax bills. 

HMRC found the fraudsters lured wealthy individuals to invest in carbon emission reduction certificates, designed to help countries hit environmental emissions targets set by the United Nations.

But in reality the funds were used to purchase properties in the UK and Dubai, none of which were declared to the taxman.

Martin Lynagh, assistant director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: "This was a carefully-planned and complex attack on the tax system and now the men have to pay up or spend even more time in prison, and still owe the money.

"Our actions don’t stop once someone is convicted, we will look to reclaim the stolen money, cash that should be funding vital public services in the UK." 

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