Fake Bollywood film makers from Newham jailed for £6m tax fraud

Anish Anand, 32, was jailed for seven years.

Anish Anand, 32, was jailed for seven years. - Credit: Archant

A gang of fraudsters has been jailed for over a decade for claiming £6m from the taxman for Bollywood blockbusters that never existed.

Between 2007 and 2011, the pretend-movie makers conned HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) with false paperwork and bank statements into thinking millions of pounds had been spent producing feature films when they had never been made or their titles had been stolen from other productions.

One fake film was meant to tell the story of “Billy”, a Beagle dog who escapes London Zoo to go on a journey of self-discovery.

British film makers can apply for tax relief for movies that will be shown in cinemas where at least 25 per cent of total production costs are spent in the UK.

The gang members received repayments totalling £4.4m but failed to claim a further £1.7m.

David Margree, assistant director of HMRC, said: “This gang defrauded the taxpayer of a substantial amount of money.

“The majority of the payments obtained through this fraud were sent offshore to Dubai, Luxembourg, and India.”

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All four defendents denied their involvement and were found guilty at Croydon Crown Court where they were sentenced on Monday after a seven-week trial.

Anish Anand, 32, whose last known address was in Coventry, absconded before the trial started and he was sentenced to seven years in prison for VAT fraud and two years for film tax credits fraud in his absence to run concurrently and he was banned from being a company director for seven years.

Amit Kumar, 35, of Romford Road, Stratford, was sentenced to 18 months in prison for VAT fraud.

Sanjeev Mirajkar, 36, of Grosvenor Road, Forest Gate, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for VAT fraud and six months for film tax credits fraud to run concurrently.

Afsana Karim, 33, also of Grosvenor Road, Forest Gate, was sentenced to a year in prison for VAT fraud and three months for film tax credits fraud, both suspended for two years, and she was ordered to work 100 hours unpaid.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Anand. If seen, call HMRC on 0800 59 5000.

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