Regulation  

FCA bans former adviser over film scheme tax cheat

FCA bans former adviser over film scheme tax cheat

The financial regulator has banned a former adviser sentenced to six years in prison for his part in conspiring to cheat HM Revenue & Customs through a film finance scheme.

Neil Williams-Denton, who previously worked as a director at Greystone Financial Services, was sentenced in December 2015 after being found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to cheat HMRC as part of film schemes he recommended to traders. 

The film schemes were presented to investors as an opportunity to get tax rebates. 

In a final notice published on the Financial Conduct Authority’s website the regulator banned Williams-Denton from any regulated activity, effective from August 8, 2019. 

The FCA warned Williams-Denton’s convictions demonstrated “a clear and serious lack of honesty and integrity such that he is not fit and proper to perform regulated activities”. 

The regulator added: “In sentencing Mr Williams-Denton, the judge stated that Mr Williams-Denton was dishonest, and created schemes to be sold to high net worth clients so that he could benefit financially. 

“The schemes involved conspiring with others in the creation of annual accounts that were required for those schemes which Mr Williams-Denton was a party to. 

“The judge also stated that Mr Williams-Denton knowingly intended to deceive HMRC, and that Mr Williams-Denton’s culpability in the dishonest schemes was high.” 

Williams-Denton set up two film companies and brought on board wealthy investors by promising they could secure tax relief against any losses the companies made.

The government scheme known as ‘sideways relief’ was launched by the then chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown in his 1997 budget to promote the British film industry and allowed investors to claim back 40 per cent of the company’s losses from their PAYE tax.

Williams-Denton let investors share in the tax relief on the £4m losses the companies presented to HMRC between 2007 and 2010.

Described as ‘the most widely exploited tax credit in British history,’ the scheme offered investors the chance to recoup £40,000 in tax relief for every £20,000 they paid into the scheme.

Williams-Denton had also recommended the film schemes to other traders as an opportunity to get tax rebates.

To actually earn the rebates, those who took part in the scheme had to prove they were actively involved by working at least 10 hours a week in the production of the films.

At the time of the trial three of the other traders were convicted on charges of conspiracy to cheat HMRC while three were acquitted. 

rachel.mortimer@ft.com

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