Two Fraudsters have been jailed for a total of 14 and a half years after using HIV research to try and steal £60million through a fraudulent tax avoidance scheme.

Antony Blake, 68, and John Banyard, 70, used their company, Ethical Trading and Marketing Ltd, attract wealthy investors with the promise of avoiding tax by supporting tree planting in the Amazon and research for a HIV cure.

World-renowned conservation scientist, Professor Ian Swingland, 72, authenticated fake documents and added credibility to the scheme.

Fake scientific reports and photos were used to claim fraudulent expenses, which was submitted to the HMRC, but no evidence showed this to be true.

Investors were able to claim tax rebates on the losses that the businesses apparently generated, or lower their tax bills, by offsetting losses against £160 million of income, attempting to avoid £60 million in tax. The majority of repayments claimed were withheld by HMRC.

On 3 March 2017, the men were found guilty, after a trial at Southwark Crown Court that began in September 2016. Antony Blakey was jailed for seven and a half years on 10 March 2017; revised to nine years at the Court of Appeal on 25 May 2017. John Banyard was jailed for four and a half years; revised to five and a half years at the Court of Appeal, on the same dates. Professor Ian Swingland was sentenced to a two year sentence, suspended for 18 months.