A former Oxford banker and music industry executive has been jailed for his role in a group of fraudsters’ ‘audacious and cynical’ tax fraud.
Evdoros Chrysanthos Demetriou, 78, of Woodstock Road, was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and sentenced to six years after persuading wealthy people to invest in environmental projects in exchange for tax breaks.
Overall, six men were jailed for 45 years in total after they used the cash to fund lavish lifestyles, buying overseas property and luxury holidays.
HM Revenue & Customs said it could have lost up to £107m as a result.
HMRC’s director of fraud investigation service Simon York said: “This was an audacious and cynical fraud on an astonishing scale, characterised by greed and a complete disregard for the ecological causes the perpetrators claimed to be supporting.
“At every step they used contrived offshore structures, complex transactions and blatant lies in an attempt to hide their tracks and derail our criminal investigation.”
HMRC said the group, led by “self-styled ringleader” and scientist Michael Richards, enticed 730 high earners to invest in research and development projects focused on reforesting areas of Brazil and China.
The convictions follow a 10-year investigation by HMRC.
Mr Justice Edis said: “It was bare-faced dishonesty and you did everything to inflict loss on the public, the people who pay their taxes, who were also victims.
“It was utter dishonesty, sophisticated planning and astonishing greed hidden behind a mask of concern for the environment.”
Richards, 55, from, East Sussex, and Robert Gold, 49, from Dubai were both sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Solicitor Rodney Whiston-Dew, 66 from Greenwich, was jailed for 10 years.
Oxford-educated business consultant Jonathan Anwyl, 44, from East Sussex, was sentenced to five and a half years in jail, while Demetriou received six years.
The five men were all found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.
The sixth man, Malcolm Gold, 73 from St Albans, admitted cheating the public revenue and was sentenced to 20 months in jail in January 2017.