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Martial Arts tax fraudsters caged

Press release -

Martial Arts tax fraudsters caged

Five men, who were part of a seven-strong gang that tried to steal more than £1 million in tax by setting up sham companies they claimed traded in television broadcasting rights for cage fighting events, have been jailed for a total of almost 19 years.

An investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found that the nationwide gang, led by Christopher Peters from Swansea and John Faraday from Buckinghamshire, had hijacked five identities and set up eight fake companies. The gang produced bogus invoices and contracts between the companies, buying and selling television broadcast rights, in order to generate fraudulent VAT repayments.

Between October 2010 and September 2012 the group piggy-backed genuine cage fighting events, producing promotional material and using the names of well-known fighters, to enhance their business credibility. The investigation unravelled the scam and identified the criminals behind it.

Anthony Swarbrick, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“This was a fraud driven purely by greed with the single aim of stuffing their pockets with cash that should have been spent on vital public services. No cage fights or broadcasts ever took place and no payments were ever made between the companies. It was a complete sham with the sole purpose of stealing from the taxpayer.

“This gang went to great lengths to deceive tax inspectors and cover up their crime, but ultimately their fraud was unpicked and they are paying the price. We will now look to strip them of their criminal gains, and the message is clear - tax fraud doesn’t pay.”

Christopher Peters and John Faraday, and Aled Wilson, from Berkshire, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing while Peter Tomlinson from Derbyshire changed his plea to guilty part way through the trial. Michael Hizer from Manchester, Jeffrey Zemmel and Anthony Behar, both from Hertfordshire, were all found guilty after a five-week trial at Blackfriars Crown Court. Peters, Hizer, Tomlinson, Zemmel and Behar were sentenced this week. Faraday and Wilson are due to be sentenced later this month.

Confiscation proceedings will follow to recoup the proceeds of their criminal activity.

Notes for Editors

1. Christopher Peters, DOB 20/10/1966, Heol-y-gog, Gowerton, Swansea, pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue at Blackfriars Crown Court on 14 September 2015. He was sentenced to six years in prison at the same court on Tuesday 3 November 2015.

2. John Faraday, DOB 15/08/1944, Stoke Court Drive, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue on 2 September 2015 at Blackfriars Crown Court. He is due to be sentenced on 16 November 2015 at the same court.

3. Michael Hizer, DOB 25/03/1959, Bridgewater Road, Worsley, Manchester. He was found guilty of cheating the public revenue following a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court. He was sentenced to four years in prison at the same court on Thursday 5 November 2015.

4. Peter Tomlinson, DOB 11/09/1956, Mansfield Road, Heanor, Derbyshire, changed his plea to guilty to cheating the public revenue during cross examination at the trial at Blackfriars Crown Court on 21 October 2015. He was sentenced to three years in prison at the same court on Thursday 5 November 2015.

5. Jeffery Zemmel, DOB 13/12/1945, Hive Road, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of cheating the public revenue following a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court. He was sentenced to four and a half years in prison at the same court on Thursday 5 November 2015.

6. Anthony Behar, DOB 11/08/1947, Pickets Close, Bushey Heath, Hertfordshire, was found guilty of cheating the public revenue after a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison at the same court on Thursday 5 November 2015.

7. Aled Wilson, 26/07/1967, Tilehurst Road, Reading, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue at Blackfriars Crown Court on 1 May 2015. He will be sentenced at the same court on 30 November 2015.

8. The gang attempted to fraudulently reclaim more than £1 million in VAT repayments, with £353,361.51 received when the scam was uncovered.

9. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

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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.

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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.

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