AN ACCOUNTANT and tax adviser who worked for a string of actors and celebrities has been jailed for five years yesterday after being found guilty of evading more than £6m in tax.
Dennis Christopher Carter Lunn, known as Christopher, ran his own Sussex-based accountancy firm Christopher Lunn & Co, whose clients included newsreader Fiona Bruce, actress Sadie Frost and Gotham star Sean Pertwee.
In 2010, the business was investigated by HM Revenue & Customs and Lunn was subsequently arrested. The tax authority uncovered a string of offences at Lunn’s premises including the inflation of accountancy fees and the fraudulent use of trading losses, measures which were undertaken to help Lunn’s clients evade tax.
Lunn was convicted at Southwark Crown Court in December 2015 on four counts of cheating the public revenue.
A few days before Lunn was sentenced, his lawyer Geoff Cox QC made the case for Lunn to only payback £65,000 of the £6m he owed, arguing that the prosecution picked out 15 examples of fraudulent accounting that involved celebrities to ‘prove a course of conduct’.
Cox added that Lunn had been “a decent, law abiding man’ of ‘good character” whose health and finances have deteriorated significantly as a result of the case against him.
Lunn was sentenced for five years and HMRC has now started confiscation proceedings to strip Lunn of any financial gain he made as a result of his criminal activity.
None of Lunn’s clients are under investigation and are understood to have known nothing about the crimes that took place. HMRC has given Lunn’s clients a chance pay any tax and interest due, with the taxman hoping to recover as much as £40m in evaded tax once all of his clients have settled.
Rebecca Busfield, partner at Watt Busfield Tax Investigations, believes that HMRC will want to display that they are rewarding ex Lunn clients who came forward promptly.
She said:”HMRC are keen to show that they are prosecuting more cases of tax fraud and treating accountants more seriously because they have positions of responsibility and trust. However, cases should be reviewed on a case by case basis and the standard of reasonable care expected varies from person to person.”
Jennie Granger, HMRC’s director general for enforcement and compliance, said that Lunn’s arrest was the product of “hard work from HMRC officers across the department”.
“Lunn believed he could make up fraudulent claims to benefit both himself and his clients. This long-running investigation has already recovered £20m as Lunn’s former clients settle their tax liabilities, with more to come.”
“I hope this result serves as a reminder to those who try to cheat the public purse – particularly those in the tax profession – that no one is above the law and that HMRC will relentlessly pursue tax evaders to bring them before the courts.”
Lunn’s son, Christopher Jonathan Lunn (Jon), who also worked at the firm, was convicted in December 2014 on six counts under the Fraud Act, after he had sent false invoices to HMRC to try to cover up the fraud in the practice.
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