Princess Diana’s former butler, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and pop singer Mike Skinner are believed to have been the victims of an alleged £125m tax fraud.
According to weekend reports in the Mail on Sunday, the celebrities were duped into investing in a film investment scheme which the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) alleges was marketed in order to cheat the public revenue.
Andrew Penhale, deputy head of fraud at the CPS, said: “Following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs, we have authorised charges against five individuals in connection with a tax relief fraud that allegedly cost the public revenue in the region of £125 million.
“It is alleged that, between 1 January 2002 and 11 July 2011, a tax relief that allows investors in the British film industry to offset losses against other tax liabilities was abused.
“The evidence suggests that the value of allowable losses was falsified, that there was a conspiracy to defraud investors and that documents were falsified for accounting purposes.
“Keith Hayley, Robert Bevan, Charles Savill, Cyril Megret and Norman Leighton will each face three charges: conspiracy to cheat the public revenue, conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to falsify documents. The charges are contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 and Common Law.
“This decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“All five defendants have been summoned to appear before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 18 June 2013.
“Hayley, Bevan, Savill, Megret and Leighton are now the subject of criminal proceedings and have the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that nothing should be reported which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”