Footballers said to be among investors in latest film tax legal case

Premiership footballers are said to be among a group of investors who have retained a London legal firm to seek redress over losses incurred in tax avoidance schemes promoted by Scion Films, which HM Revenue & Customs determined not to be legal.

The case is the latest in a series of such efforts to be brought by investors against those who had recommended the investments as a legitimate way of reducing their tax bills, under schemes that were said to have been set up to encourage investment in the film industry.

News of the case emerged in London this week, when it was revealed that Peters & Peters, a law firm specialising in civil fraud and white-collar crime litigation, is representing what it said was “a group of investors seeking redress against Scion Films for losses incurred as a result of investments in film tax schemes”.

The proceeds were described as being in addition to but separate from, ongoing claims being pursued against Ingenious Media, another film investment provider.

In that case, in which Peters & Peters is also involved, some 370 investors brought a £150m claim against the London-based Ingenious investment group, over a tax bill HMRC said the investors owed because, it argued, their Ingenious investments had been  intentionally designed to facilitate tax avoidance.

In relation to the Ingenious claim, the film company is currently appealing against a decision handed down last June, which found in favour of HMRC.

Separately, at the end of last month HMRC won a judicial review of key legal issues involved in Ingenious film investment schemes – specifically, its use of so-called Accelerated Payment Notices (APNs) and Partner Payment Notices (PPNs), which required some 81 Ingenious scheme investors to pay tax they were found to owe on their investments up front.

In another case involving a football player, Luka Modric, a Croatian player currently with Real Madrid, has paid €880,000 to the Spanish tax authorities, after appearing in a Madrid court on tax evasion charges, according to media reports.

Mis-selling claims

In the Scion film scheme matter, the claimants are alleging that they were mis-sold investments in three Scion film schemes promoted and managed by Scion and its subsidiary companies, and are seeking compensation for the tax that HMRC, after finding that the film schemes didn’t qualify for tax relief, subsequently determined that these investors owed.

Among the films said to have been funded at least in part by such schemes were Atonement, Eastern Promises and Mr Bean’s Holiday.

Jonathan Tickner, a partner at Peters & Peters, said in a statement that it was “clear” that the investors had been mis-sold the film tax schemes, as they “had been advised that they were legal and had been approved by HMRC”.

“Our clients, [who] include former Premiership footballers, have all suffered significant financial loss, with some facing bankruptcy,” Tickner added.

“Given the finite earning potential of sportsmen, and the fact that the schemes were invested in [in] good faith, they are seeking to redress this injustice.”

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