NI actress jailed over blockbuster tax credit scam

Monday 25 March 2013 23.42
Inspectors were told that A-listers from Hollywood would be starring in a £19.6m production
Inspectors were told that A-listers from Hollywood would be starring in a £19.6m production

A Northern Ireland actress has been jailed along with four other fraudsters who pretended to be making a Hollywood blockbuster as part of a £2.8m VAT and film tax credits scam.

Inspectors were told that A-listers from Hollywood would be starring in a £19.6m production that would be shot in the UK.

But the film 'Landscape Of Lives' was never made and the only footage shot was seven minutes of "completely unusable quality" filmed in a flat and costing just £5,000.

Co Down actress and producer Aoife Madden, 31, who is originally from Newry but now has an address at Maclise Road, west London, was said to have submitted a "pack of lies" to inspectors about the project.

She was sentenced to four years and eight months at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

Co-accused Bashar Al-Issa, 34, a former Iraqi national who is now British, with an address in London and described as the orchestrator of the fraud, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.

Two other defendants in the scam - Tariq Hassan, 52, a Pakistani national, living in Essex, and Osama Al Baghdady, 51, an Iraqi national with an address in Manchester, received four-year jail sentences.

A fifth defendant, architect Ian Sherwood, 53, from Manchester, who allowed his offices to be used for the fraud, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Judge Juliet May said the fraud had been based on an "entirely bogus film project".

All five defendants were also disqualified from holding company directorships - Al-Issa for 10 years; Madden for eight years, and Hassan, Al-Baghdady and Sherwood for five years.

The court heard that Madden, said by the prosecution as having played an important organisational role in the fraud, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to two charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue between April 2010 and April 2011 related to VAT repayments and film tax credits.

Al-Issa was convicted on both charges after a trial. Hassan was convicted of one charge - conspiracy to cheat the revenue in relation to film tax credits.

Al Baghdady and Sherwood were convicted of one charge of conspiracy to cheat the revenue in relation to VAT repayments.