An Oxbridge graduate who was jailed for his role in Britain’s biggest ever tax fraud has had 10 years added onto his prison sentence after failing to pay back millions of pounds.
Michael Richards, one of five businessmen involved, was ordered to pay back £11million of his ill-gotten gains from the fake ‘green’ investment scheme which saw celebrities swindled out of £107million.
The 59-year-old, who was described as the leader of the fraudulent scheme, was originally convicted of cheating the public revenue and sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2017.
Two years later, the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division successfully applied to the court for Richards to pay back £9,999,999 of his ill-gotten gains which has now risen to £11.1 million with interest.
After paying back just over £30,000, the CPS took him to Westminster Magistrates’ Court this week for non-payment of the full amount and requested an additional prison sentence be activated instead.
Michael Richards (pictured at an earlier hearing) led the fraud and was jailed for 11 years. He was ordered to repay almost £10million but has now been handed a further 10 years in prison
As a result, Richards’ prison sentence, which he is currently serving, has been increased by 10 years.
As part of their complex scheme, the five fraudsters told investors their money would be spent on research and development into carbon credits.
They assured their celebrity investors they would be eligible for tax relief and encouraged them to make claims to HMRC for a total of £107.92m.
Using their professional reputations to convince super-rich investors, they attracted more than £65 million in subscribed cash to be invested in the ‘green’ scheme but only £16 million of this was spent on planting trees.
Instead the group stole £20 million of the investors’ money and laundered it via bank accounts and secret trusts.
Eton educated Jonathan Anwyl, 46, pictured outside Southwark Crown Court, was warned he faced an additional two years in prison if he failed to pay back almost £254,000
The group spent the cash on luxury properties in London, Australia, and Dubai as well as hidden offshore investments and they also failed to pay around £6.5million in tax.
Richards bought a £2.7m home in Sussex using some of his share of the proceeds before selling it to fund the purchase of another property in Dubai.
Richards also splashed out £32,000 on a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend from luxury jewellers Boodles.
Adrian Foster, Head of the CPS Proceeds of Crime Division, said: ‘Michael Richards failed to pay back the £11million he owed the public so the CPS had to take him back to court and now he’s had 10 years added onto his current sentence.
‘We worked with HMRC to make sure he did not benefit from the proceeds of his crime, but he has only paid back a paltry amount.
‘Even when fraudsters are convicted and sentenced the CPS will continue to pursue them for the money they owe, or they risk remaining in prison for many more years.’
Former music industry executive and fellow fraudster Evdoros Demetriou, 82, had nine years added onto his six-year prison sentence in July, after failing to pay back £4.6 million.
Rodney Whiston-Dew, 68, (left) was jailed for 10 years while Eudoros Demetiou (right) was jailed for six years but had nine years added in July after failing to pay back £4.6million
The CPS appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court (pictured) to request additional time was added to Richards’ sentence after he failed to pay back £11million of his ill-gotten gains
In total, all five offenders were told to repay £20.6 million.
Robert Gold was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director. The courts ordered him to repay £2,643,677 or face further time in prison.
Rodney Whiston-Dew was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director. He was ordered to repay £3 million.
Oxford and Eton-educated Jonathan Anwyl was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and was ordered to pay back £253,934.47.
Sentencing the fraudsters in 2017, Mr Justice Edis had blasted their ‘utter dishonesty, sophisticated planning and astonishing greed hidden behind a mask of concern for the environment’.
That added ‘an element of hypocrisy and cynicism to this case which is deeply distasteful’, he said.