Jailed: Former Poplar market trader for £2.4m Formula 1 film tax fiddle

The four defendants (clockwise from left: Bond, Hill, Palmer, Osborne). Picture: HMRC

The four defendants (clockwise from left: Bond, Hill, Palmer, Osborne). Picture: HMRC - Credit: HMRC

A market trader from Poplar has been jailed and for nearly three years for a tax fiddle involving a phony Formula 1 film.

Lee Palmer, 45, formerly of Ida Street, Poplar, was on Monday sentenced at Southwark Crown Court for his role in the £2.4million scam, alongside a former Wales rugby star, a ex-police officer and a disgraced accountant.

Palmer and former bobby Roderick Bond, 59, invested in a scheme that gave film makers tax breaks by allowing them to claim back payments on a non-existant film starring F1 racing stars.

The Formula 1 Projects LLP racket saw investors claim significant financial losses on the £6m they claimed to have spent between March 2008 and May 2009.

These fake losses enabled investors to falsely claim around £40,000 in tax relief for every £20,000 they had invested.

The illegal scheme, created by former bean counter Terence Potter, 58, courted wealthy investors.

An independent financial advisor, 58-year-old Simon Osborne, was jailed for his part in introducing former Wales winger Simon Hill, 50, to the scheme.

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Inspectors for HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found a series of suspicious tax repayment claims, which originated from partnerships set up and managed by Monaco-based accountant Potter. Most of the tax refunds claimed by investors were withheld and £210,000 that had been paid out has been recouped by HMRC.

Potter plotted with Palmer and Bond to steal the tax cash along with Osborne, the court heard.

After Hill was introduced to the partnership, he also submitted fradulent tax repayment claims to the taxman.

Each had to show they worked at least 10 hours in the business to back up their tax rebate claims, which were supported by individual diaries running to hundreds of pages and sent to HMRC.

It took more than 60 fraud officers to led to their arrests in August 2014.

Hill admitted tax fraud while Bond, Palmer and Osborne were each sentenced to two years and eight months in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Hill received the same jail sentence, suspended for two years, and 300 hours unpaid work.

Potter, already serving eight years on related charges, was disqualified from being a company director for eight years.