Former Rangers adviser charged over film scheme tax fraud

A CORPORATE FINANCIER who previously held shares of Glasgow Rangers Football Club has been charged with tax fraud by the CPS over a £134m film investment scheme.

Richard Hughes co-founded Zeus Capital, the finance company which was at the heart of the Rangers buyout, and was the sole broker in the £560m flotation of online retailer in 2014.

Hughes left his role as director of Zeus Capital in 2015 but still has a majority stake in the firm. There is nothing to indicate that any of the companies connected with Zeus Capital are involved in the scheme.

In November 2012, it emerged that Hughes was being investigated by HM Revenue & Customs over a £134m film investment scheme that was orchestrated by Zeus Partners, a seperate firm that Hughes set up in 2006.

When the investigation was announced, a spokesperson for Zeus Partners said that it “provided a number of high-risk investment opportunities backing highly successful entrepreneurs with a proven track record”, adding that it was co-operating fully with HMRC in its investigation.

The scheme gave the Zeus Partners’ 165 investors the opportunity to buy content from American motion picture firm Seven Arts Entertainment, a story which was first revealed by The Times.

If the films were successful at the box office, investors would double their money. If the film tanked however, investors could write off the cost against their other income and claim tax relief. For example, an investor who spent £160,000 could then borrow a further £840,000 and claim back on the total £1m.

Hughes and ten others have been charged by the CPS with “conspiracy to cheat” the revenue. They have been summonsed to appear at Birmingham Magistrates on 23 February.

Hughes denies the charges put against him.

Related reading