A professional tax adviser has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for a £70m tax fraud that involved valuing shares at many times their true worth, donating them to charity and collecting Gift Aid on the donations.
David Perrin, 46, of Leagrave, Luton, a senior tax expert at the accountancy firm Vantis, was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court last month of dishonestly submitting, facilitating and inducing others to submit claims for tax relief.
Perrin encouraged 600 wealthy clients to donate shares to charity in order to claim £70m in tax relief.
Perrin claimed the shares, in four companies that he had listed on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, were valued at £213m, but they were actually worth only a small fraction of this amount.
The scheme involved clients paying a few pence for each share, which would then have their value artificially inflated through a process known as share ramping. They would then donate each share to charity at its new higher value and claim tax relief of up to 40 per cent of that value.
Charities that accepted donated shares would later discover they could not sell the stock at its listed price.
Perrin made about £2m in fees paid by clients caught up in the scam.
Jim Graham, a criminal investigator with HM Revenue & Customs, said that Perrin had perpetrated a "cynical fraud" that "conned innocent charities into accepting gifts of virtually worthless shares".