Sunday 18 February 2018

Irish woman jailed for her part in fake Hollywood movie scam

Martha Linden

AN Irish woman has been jailed for her part in a plot by fraudsters who pretended to be making a Hollywood blockbuster as part of a £2.8 million VAT and film tax credits scam.

Actor Aoife Madden, 31, a British and Irish national, of Maclise Road, west London, said to have submitted a "pack of lies" to inspectors about the project, was sentenced to four years and eight months.

Inspectors were told that A-listers from Hollywood would be starring in a £19.6 million production that would be shot in the UK.

Four others involved in the plot have also received jail sentences.

But the film Landscape Of Lives was never made and the only footage shot was seven minutes of "completely unusable quality" filmed in a flat and costing just £5,000.

Bashar Al-Issa, 34, a former Iraqi national who is now British, of Rodney Court, Maida Vale, London, described as the orchestrator of the fraud, was jailed for six- and-a-half years by Judge Juliet May, sitting at Southwark Crown Court in central London.

Two other defendants in the scam - Tariq Hassan, 52, a Pakistani national, of Willingale Road, Loughton, Essex, and Osama Al Baghdady, 51, an Iraqi national of Lowther Road, Crumpsall, Manchester, received four-year jail sentences.

A fifth defendant, architect Ian Sherwood, 53, of Esher Drive, Sale, Manchester, who allowed his offices to be used for the fraud, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Judge May said the fraud had been based on an "entirely bogus film project".

All five defendants were also disqualified from holding company directorships - Al-Issa for 10 years; Madden for eight years, and Hassan, Al-Baghdady and Sherwood for five years.

The court heard that Madden, said by the prosecution as having played an important organisational role in the fraud, pleaded guilty at the start of the trial to two charges of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue between April 2010 and April 2011 related to VAT repayments and film tax credits.

Al-Issa was convicted on both charges after a trial. Hassan was convicted of one charge - conspiracy to cheat the revenue in relation to film tax credits.

Al Baghdady and Sherwood were convicted of one charge of conspiracy to cheat the revenue in relation to VAT repayments.

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