An international tax fraudster who conned the Inland Revenue out of £55m and
whose ‘breathtaking and audacious’ crimes helped fund a life of luxury in a
mansion on the shores of Lake Geneva, has been jailed for 12 and a half years.
Ian Leaf, 51, bought 13 subsidiary companies from plcs that had significant
tax liabilities. He then took out fictitious loans with high interest from a
bank registered in the Pacific island of Nauru, controlled by him, and used them
to offset the tax owed to HMRC.
These loans were also used to undertake highly profitable foreign exchange
deals, not subject to UK tax, out of which were paid dividends. Leaf then used
these to reclaim corporation tax rightly paid by the companies before he
He is estimated to have made a clear profit of £22m, all of which remains
Leaf was convicted at London’s Southwark Crown Court last month of 13 counts
of fraudulent trading between 1991 and 1996. Passing sentence, Judge David
Higgins, said: ‘In colloquial terms that of which you have been convicted is
fraud on a truly massive scale and of its type it may well be without
precedence, and in the pantheon of crime it ranks very highly indeed.
‘Put simply, you have by dishonest means deprived the Inland Revenue of
approximately £55m, out of which you have made a net profit of approximately
£22m. The whereabouts of this sum remains unknown.’
‘Your crimes are not victimless. Every law abiding citizen in this country is
a victim of your crimes in that you have denied the country of substantial
resources’, he added.
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