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Monday, 16 January 2012

Tax adviser guilty of fraud scheme


06:10 |

 

A professional tax adviser from Bedfordshire has been convicted of trying to defraud honest taxpayers of £70 million, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said. David Perrin spent his cut of the stolen cash on expensive second homes, exotic holidays, works of art and luxury cars, a spokeswoman said. The 46-year-old, of Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire, was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court and will be sentenced next month, she added. Perrin, deputy managing director at Vantis Tax Ltd, devised and operated a tax avoidance scheme which he sold to wealthy taxpayers in order to exploit the law on giving shares to charity, she said. The scheme allowed him to pocket more than £2 million in fees from unsuspecting clients. He used a network of finance professionals to advise more than 600 wealthy clients to buy shares, worth a few pence each, in four new companies he had set up, the spokeswoman said. He then listed the companies on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and paid people money from an offshore account to buy and sell the shares simply to inflate their price. The share owners then donated 329 million shares to various unsuspecting registered charities and tried to claim £70 million tax relief on a total of £213 million of income and company profits. This was based on the shares being worth up to £1 each, rather than the pennies they were originally bought for. Perrin also used the bogus scheme to claim money back, the spokeswoman said. The scheme proved so popular that Vantis employees performed a smug celebratory song at their annual conference, to the tune of I will Survive, she said. It included the verse: "They should have changed that stupid law, they should have buggered charity, but they have left that lovely tax relief, for folks to pay to me." Jim Graham, HMRC criminal investigator, said: "With his knowledge of the tax system, Perrin thought that he was one step ahead of both HMRC and the law. "This cynical fraud not only stole millions of pounds from taxpayers, but also conned innocent charities into accepting gifts of virtually worthless shares, just so Perrin could inflate his own criminal earnings." Perrin was charged with cheating the revenue by dishonestly submitting and dishonestly facilitating and inducing others to submit claims for tax relief which falsely stated values of shares which were gifted to charities. He will be sentenced on February 9 and confiscation proceedings are under way, the spokeswoman said.


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