A gang who made a film starring a former Eastenders actor solely as a £2.8m tax scam have been convicted at Southwark Crown Court.
HM Revenue and Customs found ‘A Landscape of Lives', which it claimed starred several A-list actors with a budget of £19m, was never intended to be filmed.
The gang successfully claimed £1.5m in VAT along with £1.3m in film tax credits before attracting the attention of HMRC.
In an attempt to cover their tracks, Bashar Al-Issa, Aoife Madden, Tariq Hassan, Ian Sherwood and Osama Al Baghdady then filmed ‘A Landscape of Lies', starring former Eastenders actor Marc Bannerman and Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, on a shoestring budget.
John Pointing, assistant director of criminal investigation at HMRC, said: "This gang thought they could exploit rules for genuine British filmmakers and thieve from the public purse for their own gain. They were wrong as HMRC will not stand by and let that happen.
"Falsely claiming VAT that is not due is illegal - so we are pleased that instead of this film flop going straight to DVD, these small-screen z-listers could go straight to jail."
The case is the first time HMRC has successfully prosecuted for film tax relief fraud.
'Exact timescale' of complaints not yet provided
1,400 reviews of adviser technology
To engage next generation
Now accessible to all
Some scheme’s ‘fib’