David Perrin, a professional tax adviser at Vantis, has been convicted of defrauding taxpayers of £70m, HMRC has confirmed.
Perrin, who worked for the Inland Revenue in the late 80s and early 90s, was found guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court for “cheating the revenue by dishonestly submitting and dishonestly facilitating and inducing others to submit claims for tax relief which falsely stated values of shares which were gifted to charities”.
Confiscation proceedings are under way and he will be sentenced on 9 February.
Between 2005 and 2006 Perrin had devised and operated a tax avoidance scheme which he sold to wealthy taxpayers in order to exploit the law on giving shares to charity, allowing him to pocket more than £2m in fees.
He used a network of finance professionals to advise more than 600 wealthy clients to buy shares, worth a few pence each, in four new companies he had set up.
He then listed the companies on the Channel Islands Stock Exchange and paid people money from an offshore account to buy and sell the shares to inflate their price.
The share owners then donated 329 million shares to various unsuspecting registered charities and tried to claim £70m tax relief on a total of £213m of income and company profits.
The scheme proved so popular that Vantis employees performed a ‘smug’ celebratory song at their annual conference, to the tune of “I will Survive”, a HMRC spokesperson said.
It included the verse:
They should have changed that stupid law
They should have buggered charity
But they have left that lovely tax relief
For folks to pay to me
The Bedfordshire-based deputy MD had also spent his cut of the stolen cash on expensive second homes, exotic holidays, works of art and luxury cars.
Jim Graham, HMRC criminal investigator, said: "With his knowledge of the tax system, Perrin thought that he was one step ahead of both HMRC and the law.
"This cynical fraud not only stole millions of pounds from taxpayers, but also conned innocent charities into accepting gifts of virtually worthless shares, just so Perrin could inflate his own criminal earnings."