Financial movie-man gets year for tax fraud.

An Irish accountant whose company provided payroll services for film blockbusters such as Mel Gibson’s Braveheart has been jailed for a year for tax fraud, writes Anthony Garvey.

Ignatius Forde, who once addressed visiting British filmmakers on the tax incentives available for investing in the Irish industry, pleaded guilty in court to two charges of making false returns involving a total of IR#270,000 (£212,000).

The 48-year-old father of four is believed to be the first member of the profession in the Irish Republic to be sent to prison for tax offences.

Forde, whose family home is in Graiguecullen, County Carlow, some 40 miles from Dublin, had set up a company, Bradford Productions, to take advantage of the Irish filmmaking boom in the early 1990s.

As well as Braveheart, it provided payroll services to major productions such as Moll Flanders, starring Robin Wright and Morgan Freeman, and Old Curiosity Shop, with Peter Ustinov and Tom Courtenay.

The company prospered, handling up to IR#10m from various production companies. However, in 1995, Sligo Circuit Court was told earlier this month, Revenue commissioners became concerned when creditors won a court order freezing Forde’s assets.

An investigation showed he had a tax liability of IR#1.4m, but had submitted returns for only about IR#400,000. His company subsequently went into receivership.

Senior counsel Paul McDermott, pleading for leniency, said Forde knew he had been ‘foolish and reckless’ but had paid a substantial penalty in terms of his business and personal life. He had surrendered money in a personal account to the taxman and had pledged other sums he expected to receive.

But Judge Bryan McMahon said: ‘The fact that these offences were committed in the shadow of the glamour of the film industry does not mean that the loss to the state was any less.’

The judge rejected application for leave to appeal.

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