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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Life Imitating Film



I am amused at the story published in economia about a hapless gang of VAT fraudsters who tried to defraud HMRC of £2.8M of VAT and tax credits:
"Aoife Madden, the actress who helmed the production, has become the first person to be convicted of defrauding the government’s film tax relief fund.

Bashar Al-Issa, of London, along with Madden of Northern Ireland, Tariq Hassan of Essex, Ian Sherwood and Osama Al Baghdady, both of Manchester, owned Evolved Pictures.

Evolved told its auditors it was shooting a £20m movie with big name stars, funded by a Jordanian company, but it turned out be a sophisticated plot to claim £2.8m in tax credits and VAT repayments.

Evolved told HMRC that millions of pounds of work had been spent on the film, claiming a VAT repayment was due of £1,488,187, among other tax credits.

However, during checks HMRC found that the work had not been done and most of the so-called suppliers and film studios had never heard of the gang.

When HMRC discovered that the sham production never existed, and the gang was arrested, they came up with an elaborate plan to cover their tracks and hide the fraud by shooting a film on a shoestring called “A Landscape of Lies” which featured two UK television personalities.
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It seems that they must have come up with the idea from the plot of The Producers. However, had they watched the film properly they would have realised that the hapless producers (one of them an accountant) failed in their scam as well and were sent to jail.

My favourite line in the film is:
"You're an accountant, you come from a noble profession; it has the word "Count' in it!"