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Millionaire property developer Michael Shanly convicted over tax evasion
PROPERTY mogul Michael Shanly has pleaded guilty after a investigation into offshore tax evasion – landing him fines and compensation totalling £830,000.
The millionaire developer, 65, who owns many shop and business premises in Marlow and south Bucks, has been convicted of cheating the public revenue.
The landlord evaded £430,000 in inheritance tax when he closed a Swiss bank account, HM Revenue & Customs said in a public statement. HMRC claimed Mr Shanly tried to conceal the money.
However, Mr Shanly's lawyers insisted he had not avoided any personal tax liability, though there was unpaid tax on the estate of his late mother.
Mr Shanly, who appeared at Wood Green Crown Court on Wednesday, previously failed to disclose the offshore account during a civil enquiry when he was found to owe HMRC aboutd £1.5m.
Mr Shanly, estimated by the Sunday Times Rich List to be worth upwards of £100m, opened the account with his and his mother’s money. When his mother died, he later closed the account, and transferred all the money – avoiding £430,000 of inheritance tax.
Chris Martin, Assistant Director, HMRC Criminal Investigations, said: “Mr Shanly thought it was out of reach of HMRC and hoped we would never find it.
“However we discovered it, and he will pay a heavy penalty.”
In sentencing Recorder Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC said: “In this court there are no rules just for the rich and no rules just for the poor... the tax system relies on voluntary and honest disclosure of tax affairs and it applies to all equally.”
Mr Shanly, from Hurley, has already paid HMRC £387,103 out of £830,000.
A statement from Mr Shanly’s solicitor read: “Following an investigation by HMRC it was agreed Mr Shanly had not avoided any personal tax liability, but that there was unpaid tax on the estate of his late mother.
“This had been overlooked when dealt with at the time of her death. Between the death of Mr Shanly’s mother in 2004 and the three tax years that were the subject matter of the investigation, the money remained in a dormant Swiss bank account.
“However, the money was not Mr Shanly’s, he was not required to include it in his income tax returns and therefore had no personal liability to pay income tax on the interest earned on the account.
“Before the HMRC investigation started the total sum of the account - £874,063.77 had been paid to a charity, Terre des Hommes, this charity works for the rights of disadvantaged children, developing and implementing projects designed to improve their living conditions, including focus on co-responsibility of receiving countries in inter-country adoption.
“This was in accordance with Mr Shanly’s mother’s wishes.
“As a result of the investigation by HMRC Mr Shanly accepted he did have an obligation, as administrator of his mother’s estate, to include the capital sum and accrued interest, in her Estate.
“Furthermore, as administrator he ought to have made a separate tax return in his capacity as administrator to account for the interest accrued in the account until such time as the money was distributed from the estate to the beneficiaries.”