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Tax adviser jailed for 18 months for attempted £70m fraud

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A tax adviser convicted last month of cheating the public revenue by dishonestly submitting and facilitating tax relief claims has been jailed for 18 months. A confiscation hearing will be held in July.

David Perrin, aged 46, of Leagrave, Luton, Bedfordshire, sold a ‘bogus’ tax avoidance scheme to wealthy individuals between 2005 and 2006, when he was deputy managing director at Vantis Tax Limited. There was no suggestion that any of the clients knew about the fraud.

Perrin, who worked for the former Inland Revenue in the late 1980s and early 1990s, tried to defraud honest taxpayers of £70m, HMRC said. As Tax Journal reported last month, the claims falsely stated the value of shares gifted to charities.

HMRC officers discovered a rewritten version of Gloria Gaynor's 1978 hit I Will Survive on a personal computer when they raided Perrin's home.

The song was ‘performed to entertain colleagues at a tax avoidance seminar organised by Vantis Tax’, according to reports:

At first I was afraid, I was petrified.

Kept thinking Clerkenwell and Modia [two companies caught up in the scam, according to the Mail on Sunday] were suicide.

But then I spent so many nights thinking how much cash we made

And we got paid

Almost as good as getting laid...

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...

Weren't you the ones who said that you'd shaft us with a GAAR? [General Anti-Avoidance Rule]

You may think you've got cojones

We've got bigger balls by far.

Tax avoidance is difficult to define but it is legal, unlike fraud and evasion which are illegal. HMRC's anti-avoidance strategy includes seeking penalties in appropriate circumstances:

‘Avoidance arrangements which may involve dishonesty or criminality will be identified and reviewed for potential criminal investigation.'

Vantis plc collapsed in 2010. RSM Tenon acquired many of its businesses, including accounting and tax divisions.