A low-budget British movie called A Landscape of Lies was actually made as part of a tax scam:
The criminals claimed they were making a £20m gangster film called A Landscape Of Lies so they could claim £1million in tax credits and VAT repayments.
When HMRC became suspicious former property developer Bassar Al-Issa, 33, film producer Aoife Madden, 31, Tariq Hassan, 51, Ian Sherwood, 53, and Osama Al-Baghdady, 50, cobbled together a script and cast to try and convince investigators the project was real.
At least ten versions of a the script were drafted, pre-production work was done to try to con HMRC investigators but it failed, Southwark Crown Court was told.
‘The documents were mere window dressing, they were produced to fool HMRC and the accountants who acted on their behalf to claim film credits that there was a film being made’, said prosecutor Shane Collery.
‘It was a fiction, they were intended to deceive. The work had not been carried out to anything like the level set out in the invoices.’
The Landscape Of Lies website boasts: ‘This gritty British drama is a complex exploration of lives that will draw you into their seedy world of power, lies, and betrayal.
‘The dark themes are subtly illuminated by the characters’ poignant stories, The storyline challenges peoples notions of what’s right and what’s wrong.’
Al-Issa was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.
Hassan, Al-Baghdady and Sherwood were each found guilty of a single count of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue but cleared of a second conspiracy charge.
Madden, born in Newry, Northern Ireland, earlier admitted the two conspiracy charges.
Al-Issa, a bankrupt former construction company boss from Iraq, dreamt up the scheme while studying at the University of East London.
In a hilarious twist, the patched-together “fake” movie actually won a “Silver Ace” at the Las Vegas Film Festival, though festival organizers now say that was little more than a participation award. How is a (real) movie about this not already in production?