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Film producer jailed for £1.5m VAT fraud

Press Release   •   Jul 01, 2013 16:39 BST

The producer of the first modern British film to be shot in 3D is today behind bars after he was found guilty of a £1.5 million VAT fraud.

The film, Eldorado, which featured a number of well-known British and Hollywood actors, including former Dr Who Sylvester McCoy and Splash actress Daryl Hannah, was the last to be completed by David Carradine, of Kung Fu fame, before he died in 2009.

Richard Driscoll, who had a walk-on part in TV comedy series It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, was sentenced today (1 July 2013) at Southwark Crown Court to three years in jail.

Paul Barton, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“HMRC investigators unravelled a complex and organised VAT fraud that Driscoll knew was against the law. As a result he has now lost his liberty and has a criminal record.

“Tax fraud is a serious offence and HMRC will continue to seek out those who attempt to commit these crimes, and bring them to justice. I urge anyone with information about people or businesses involved in tax fraud to contact HMRC’s Tax Evasion hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Driscoll falsified invoices for the costs of making films in order to reclaim VAT that he was not entitled to, and set up a number of associated companies that were used solely to commit the crime.

He owned a film studio in Cornwall where the films were made. The claims for repayment of £1.5 million VAT were based on production costs of more than £9 million, but investigators found that the costs were actually less than £1 million. Bogus invoices were sent to support the false repayment claims and other invoices were genuine but had their values inflated.

In sentencing Driscoll His Honour Judge Pegden, QC, said:

“In my opinion this was professionally planned…you used your filming expertise for the content of bogus and false invoices.”

Notes for Editors

1. Richard Driscoll, 13/01/1960, Wendron, Helston, Cornwall. He is a director of Higher Nanpean Film Studios Ltd (HNFS Ltd); House of Fear Ltd (HOF Ltd); House of Fear Film Production Ltd (HOFFP Ltd); and Grindhouse Films Ltd.

2. Driscoll was arrested on 6 June 2011 and later charged with VAT fraud. He was found guilty on 5 June 2013 at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to defraud VAT. He was sentenced today (1 July 2013) at the same court to three years in jail and disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

3. Driscoll’s Nanpean Studio was based at Lancarrow, Four Lanes, Redruth, Cornwall.

4. The fraud took place between January 2009 and September 2011.

5. Follow HMRC on Twitter @HMRCgovuk

6. HMRC’s Flickr channel

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.