Vantis paid £200k by charity tax company

The accounts of Clerkenwell Medical Research, a company floated on the
Channel Islands Stock Exchange in March of 2005, show a payment to Vantis Tax an
amount of £229,403, including VAT.

The company is one of a number involved in an
HM Revenue & Customs
probe into the use of tax arrangements which allowed celebrities and other
high-net worth individuals to claim substantial tax deductions as a result of
charity reliefs.

A spokesman for Vantis said
this week that the payment was ‘for a range of consultancy services.’
Clerkenwell’s accounts do not themselves specify what the payment, relating to
the year to June 2005, was made for.

Vantis had also advised individual investors. The firm has insisted that it
has not been involved in advising on charity schemes with cash shells. It
insists its advice has always been in relation to companies with genuine
commercial prospects.

The charity schemes being looked at by HMRC work by setting up or buying
companies with intellectual property and seeing their value rise substantially
on flotation. Investors then gift the shares to charity, qualifying for tax
relief of 40% of the value of the gift.

Vantis itself was set to be quizzed by investors yesterday as it launched
interim figures.

Shares in the firm have plunged by around 40p, or 15% over the Christmas
period following revelations in The Sunday Times about the investigation.

Sources at the firm stressed that the trading involved small volumes and
related to retail rather than institutional trades.

Referring to the investigation, a Vantis spokesman said: ‘There has been no
suggestion of any charges against Vantis advisers. Vantis is co-operating fully
with HMRC. Any wrongdoing is strenuously denied.

‘The four companies being investigated are bona fide, listed, trading
companies on a quoted exchange and have commercial prospects. The rules of tax
legislation have been strictly applied where tax relief has been claimed.’

The firm has done extremely well in recent years, its revenues growing by
£10m in 2006 from 2005, or by 17%.

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