Mr King was cleared at a previous court hearing of being involved in a major £60m tax avoidance scam involving Mr Blakey and several others.
This week Mr Adrian King, 56, was given an 18 month sentence, suspended for 2 year, for hiding his true income by arranging payment of work he did with Mr Blakey through an offshore company. He admitted the fraudulent evasion of £235,000 Income Tax.
Ethical Trading and Marketing Ltd company director, and lead instigator Mr Blakey, 68, and finance director, John Banyard, 70, targeted wealthy investors with their tax avoidance scam. Both had previously worked on bogus film finance scams. The two promised investors they could avoid tax by supporting research into a HIV cure and a tree planting venture in the Amazon.
Mr Blakey and Mr Banyard, who attempted to steal more than £60m from the public purse through the fraudulent investment scheme, have been jailed for a total of 14 and a half years.
The two were aided by a world-renowned conservation scientist, Professor Ian Swingland, who helped them with the scheme which was marketed as a tax avoidance investment opportunity to HNW investors.
Professor Swingland, 72, helped create fake documents and add credibility. An OBE awarded to him in 2007 for his conservation work has been cancelled.
Mr Blakey and Mr Banyard were found guilty on 3 March 2017 after a trial at Southwark Crown Court that began in September 2016. However details of the convictions and sentences can only now be revealed after reporting restrictions were lifted yesterday (25 February) following income tax evasion cases being concluded. This week Mr Banyard pleaded guilty to Income Tax evasion of £207,000. In November 2017, Antony Blakey pleaded guilty to evading Income Tax of £441,000 through the use of offshore companies and bank accounts.
Mr Blakey was jailed for seven and a half years on 10 March 2017; revised to nine years at the Court of Appeal on 25 May 2017.
Mr Banyard was jailed for four and a half years; revised to five and a half years at the Court of Appeal, on the same dates. Professor Ian Swingland received a two year sentence, suspended for 18 months.
HMRC is pursuing confiscation orders against the fraudsters to recover criminal proceeds and also pursuing those who invested in the failed tax avoidance scheme to recover taxes however there is no suggestion the victims of the scam were aware of the fraud.
The fraudulent investment scam used companies registered in the Seychelles and bank accounts in Cyprus to hide personal income and evade tax.
An investigation by HMRC found the Mssrs Blakey and Banyard created false documents to fraudulently claim expenses. They submitted fake scientific reports to HMRC.
HMRC said the men sold the scheme as an investment opportunity but in fact it was a fraud scam “masquerading as avoidance.”
Investors were able to claim tax rebates on the losses that the businesses apparently generated, or lower their tax bills, by offsetting losses against £160 million of income, attempting to avoid £60 million in tax.
The majority of repayments claimed were withheld by HMRC.
Simon York, director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said of the fraud case involving Mssrs Blakey and Banyard and Prof Swingland: “This was a calculated and cynical crime carried out by men who had no shame in using a worthy cause like HIV research to mask their criminality. In doing so, they attempted to steal millions of pounds from the taxpaying public - money that ultimately pays for vital public services like the NHS.”
During the probe, HMRC worked with a number of foreign jurisdictions including Germany, Mauritius, Brazil, the Netherlands, France, Cyprus and the United States and found the fraudsters used offshore companies in Mauritius and the Seychelles to cover their tracks.
On sentencing the Mssrs Banyard, Blakey and Prof Swingland, for the fraud based on tax avoidance in March 2017, His Honour Judge Pegden QC, said: “The offences required significant planning and the fraudulent activity was over a sustained period. You were all involved in different ways in dishonest tax schemes. Antony Blakey, you lay at the very heart of these schemes, playing a part in devising them and ensuring their sale, and then lying to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs over a prolonged period.”
• Update: Headline and story have been revised to make clear that Martin Adrian King was sentenced for tax evasion only and was acquitted of charges related to the investment scam itself at an earlier hearing.