Tuesday 27 September 2016

Irish actress helped mastermind tax scam for 'Landscape of Lies' movie that never happened

Published 03/07/2015 | 09:58

Aoife Madden
Aoife Madden

A glamorous actress who helped mastermind a tax scam involving a movie that never existed has been ordered to pay back some of her profits or face more time in jail.

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But actress Aoife Madden will only have to refund £2,525.30 (€3,552) out of her benefit of £798,950 (€1,123,764) from the swindle.

Madden, born in Armagh and niece of Sinn Fein politician Conor Murphy, was part of a team of bogus film-makers who fraudulently claimed £2.7m (€3.8m) in tax rebates by pretending to shoot the movie A Landscape Of Lies.

The gang falsely boasted to have signed up former EastEnders star and Loose Women presenter Andrea McLean, along with Hollyoaks star Christina Bailey, veteran Jeremy Irons and actress Sorcha Cusack.

Despite stringing tax inspectors along for months, they produced just eight minutes of low-quality footage - filmed in one of their flats - and spent less than £100,000 on the project. Fake scripts and documents were cooked up to add a veneer of legitimacy to their lies, along with claims that filming had been ongoing since November 2010 and was due to finish in 2013.

Their business office in fashionable Harley Street, central London, consisted of a single empty room, Southwark Crown Court heard. Former property developer Bassar Al-Issa (36) was jailed for six-and-a-half years in March 2013 for his role in the scam and yesterday appeared at Southwark Crown Court via video-link from HMP Wandsworth. He was ordered to pay back almost £500,000 (€703,028).

Judge Juliet May QC said: "Mr Al-Issa was convicted of fraud at this court in March 2013 in the context of a bogus film-making project.

Al-Issa was ordered to repay £486,273.07 (€683,968) from the £796,318.86 (€1,120,062) he gained from the plot within three months or he will face a further four years in jail.

Madden (33) pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiring to cheat the Revenue before the trial and was jailed for four years and eight months in 2013.

She was yesterday ordered to repay just £2,525.30 (€3,551) out of her benefit of £798,950 (€1,123,764) within six months or she will face a further 45 days in prison.

Fellow scammer Osama Al-Baghdady (53) was jailed for four years after he netted £796,318.86 from the plot. He was ordered to hand back £1,469.98 within three months or face an additional 35 days in jail.

Co-accused Ian Sherwood (55) was ordered to repay £1,000 (€1,406) which was also the amount he earned from the fraud, within 28 days or face two weeks in prison.

Sherwood was handed a three-and-a-half year sentence following the hearing in March two years ago.

Co-accused Tariq Hassan (54) was jailed for four years but the amount he is to repay has yet to be determined.

A Landscape Of Lies was originally due to be released on DVD in 2011.

In the original scam the gang of five, including Madden, had pretended that unnamed Hollywood A-listers would star in a multi-million pound production that would be shot in the United Kingdom. They said that a Jordanian company was backing the film to the tune of £19m.

However, the production was a fraud and a means of claiming millions in tax breaks.

Belfast Telegraph

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