Businessmen must pay back £20m or face another 37 years in jail

Businessmen must pay back £20m or face another 37 years in jail over Britain’s biggest ever tax fraud that swindled celebrities out of £107m

  • Eton educated Jonathan Anwyl, 46, helped run an investment fund for celebs 
  • Anwyl and his four co-accused targeted famous individuals such as footballers
  • Victims were convinced they were helping fund cutting-edge research in Brazil]
  • The group told victims to make tax relief claims worth a total of £107.9 million  

Eton educated Jonathan Anwyl, 46, pictured outside Southwark Crown Court, was warned he faced an additional two years in prison if he failed to pay back almost £254,000 to the tax man

Five businessmen who took part in Britain’s biggest ever tax fraud in which celebrities were swindled out of £107m must pay back £20m or face an extra 37 years in jail.

Jonathan Anwyl, 46, the son of a judge, helped run an investment scheme favoured by comedians, sports stars and relatives of politicians.

He was part of a group led by scientist Michael Richards, 57, who used their professional reputations to convince super-rich investors they were running cutting edge research and development projects in Brazil and China.

They assured their celebrity investors they would be eligible for tax relief and encouraged them to make claims to HMRC for a total of £107.92m.

But the operation was a ‘sham’ and members of the group siphoned off huge sums for their own ‘secret money box accounts’ in Switzerland and Holland.

Of the £65m subscribed cash, £20m was stolen by the group and used to buy houses around the world, make their own investments and maintain a luxury lifestyle.

Oxford and Eton-educated Anwyl used some of the proceeds to pay £788,000 off the mortgage of a house he owned in Australia with his French wife Anne.

His mother Shirley Anwyl, QC, was a circuit judge for 13 years and resident judge at Woolwich Crown Court until her retirement in 2008.

His late father Robin Hamilton Corson Anwyl is a descendant of the aristocratic Anwyl of Tywyn family, which dates back to the 12th century Welsh king, Owain Gwynedd.

Anwyl, of Yeomans, Ringmer, East Sussex, was jailed for five-and-a-half years in November 2017 after he was convicted of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Mr Justice Edis found Anwyl benefited by £2,209,412.46 from the fraud but ordered him to pay back just £253,934.47 in realisable assets or serve another two years in jail.

He has now repaid the debt.

Richards, of Chelsea Harbour, southwest London, was also convicted of cheating the public revenue and jailed for 11 years after the trial in 2017.

He was given three months to pay up £9,999,999 or face a further 10 years in jail.

He bought a home in Sussex using some of his share of the proceeds before selling it to fund the purchase of another property in Dubai.

Richards also splashed out £32,000 on a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend from luxury jewellers Boodles.

Prosecutor Charles Miskin QC had told jurors how Anwyl was reeled in by Richards and others in the plot which ran between April 6, 2004 and March 4, 2010.

Michael Richards, 57, led the fraud and was jailed for 11 years. He was ordered to repay almost £10 million for face a further decade in prison

Rodney Whiston-Dew, 68, was jailed for 10 years. He has been given three months to pay more than £3 million back to the tax man or spend a further nine years in prison 

Eudoros Demetiou, 80, was told he must pay £4.6 million within three months or face a further nine years in prison

The father-of-one insisted the company was being run legitimately but after a 10-month trial costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds, jurors convicted Anwyl and Richards of conspiring to cheat the public revenue.

Barrister Rodney Whiston-Dew, 68, Robert Gold, 51, and Eudoros Demetriou, 80, former senior executive at EMI and Warner Music, were also convicted of involvement in the fraud.

Whiston-Dew, a former president of the Rotary Club of London, was jailed for 10 years; He was given three months to pay up £3,035,192.97 or face a further nine years in jail.

Gold was jailed for 11 years and ordered to hand over £2,643,677.25 in three months or face a further nine years in jail.

Former music industry executive Demetriou who was jailed for six years was told he must give back £4,682,613 in three months or face a further 9 years in jail.

Mr Justice Edis ruled Gold had profited £7,096,712.30.

Mr Miskin had described the investment scheme being marketed as an ‘attractive, ethical, green commercial enterprise with tax benefits to those who invested’.

But he added the whole thing had been dishonestly created and sold by the defendants.

‘This was an investment scheme devised by very clever if not brilliant professional men who used their reputations to promote and advance it,’ said Mr Miskin.

‘There was a hidden structure behind it which they deliberately and fraudulently concealed [from HMRC].’

Prosecutors claimed that the investments by the ‘high net worth’ individuals could be broken down into 80 per cent capital loans which ‘did not exist’ and 20% cash contributions.

Those cash amounts were first transferred to CPT, which had been commissioned to undertake the scientific research on deforested land in Brazil and China, and on to offshore lenders Environmental Guarantee Corporation (EGC).

Incorporated on the Isle of Man, EGC then purported to lend what amounted to the investors own money back to some of them and circulated the funds between the various entities under the group’s collective control.

Of the £65m obtained from the investors only a quarter was actually spent by CPT in Brazil, China and elsewhere – roughly six per cent of the £270m promised.

Mr Miskin added: ‘Large amounts were simply siphoned off into secret money box accounts for some of them.’

Investors’ funds were placed in CPT’s account in the Netherlands and, once available after the circular movements, siphoned into another secret Swiss account in the name of CPL.

From there it was dispersed by the defendants.

Sentencing the fraudsters nearly two years ago Mr Justice Edis had blasted their ‘utter dishonesty, sophisticated planning and astonishing greed hidden behind a mask of concern for the environment’.

That added ‘an element of hypocrisy and cynicism to this case which is deeply distasteful’, he said.

Martin Lynagh, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, 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.’

Manjula Nayee, of the CPS, said: ‘These men used their elite background to persuade people to part with their money, resulting in a huge loss to the victims and the public purse.

‘Seizing these assets shows that we will do everything we can to ensure that criminals do not profit by exploiting others.’


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