Roy Faichney, who was managing director of Vantis Tax Ltd, has also been disqualified from acting as a director for 10 years.
Faichney set up the fraudulent tax avoidance scheme together with his deputy, David Perrin, and sold it to wealthy customers over a period between 2005 and 2006. The £4.5m profit the pair made was collected in a bank account in Jersey.
Faichney used his share to buy luxury properties and paintings. He also used the tax avoidance scheme to avoid paying tax on his £200,000 salary.
The scheme was so successful that Vantis employees performed a celebratory song at their annual conference, adding new words to the tune of I will survive. These included the verse: “They should have changed that stupid law, they should have b***ered charity, but they have left that lovely tax relief, for folks to pay to me.”
The scheme involved using a network of finance professionals to advise more than 600 wealthy clients to buy shares, worth a few pence each, in four new companies the pair had set up.
Faichney then listed the companies on the Channel Island Stock Exchange and paid people money from an offshore account to buy and sell the shares simply to inflate their price.
The share owners then donated 329m shares to unsuspecting registered charities and tried to claim back £70m in tax relief on a total of £213m of income and company profits. They based the claim on the shares being worth up to £1 each, rather than the pennies they were originally bought for.
Sentencing Faichney at Blackfriars Crown Court, his honour judge Blacksell said, “If you ever had a moral compass, you lost it or buried it under the property purchases, furnishings, holidays and cruises.
“The general public are sick and tired of men such as you and schemes such as this. This is high net worth fiddling. The general public should applaud the dedication and commitment shown by HMRC in pursuing all aspects of this case. They have been well served.”
Confiscation proceedings have been started against Faichney to retrieve any benefits that he might have received through his criminal activities.
His partner in crime, Perrin, was sentenced in January to 18 months’ imprisonment. On appeal, the Court of Appeal found that his sentence was unduly lenient but, because of his ill health, it was not extended. However, the Court made it clear that the starting point for cases like his, before mitigating factors are taken into account, should be a minimum of seven years’ imprisonment.