Bashar al-Issa Convicted of Tax Fraud in the UK

From the Glasgow Daily Record, we learn that,

LOOSE Women star Andrea McLean was offered a big movie break – and became an unwitting pawn in a multi-million tax scam.

The Scots former weathergirl was cast as a bisexual therapist in gritty gangster film A Landscape of Lies.

But she was unaware the production – which also featured equally unsuspecting former EastEnder Marc Bannerman – was being hastily shot to get the taxman off the conmen producers’ trail.

The fraudsters, fronted by redheaded actress Aiofe Madden, 31, had told the tax authorities her company, Evolved Pictures, were making a £20million film.

They hoped to claim £2.8million in tax credits and VAT repayments and had raked in £1million in tax credits before HMRC swooped and arrested them.

Then, in a farcical attempt to cover their tracks, they hastily recruited an unsuspecting crew and cast and shot their film in four months.

But the shoestring effort they produced for just £100,000 bore no relation to the ambitious plans they had submitted – and the taxmen saw through the ruse.

Yesterday, at Southwark Crown Court in London, bankrupt Iraqi building company boss Bashar Al-Issa, 33, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

His accomplices Tariq Hassan, 51, Osama Al-Baghdady, 50, and Ian Sherwood, 53, were each found guilty of a single count of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue.

Mr. Issa came to Buffalo in a flourish several years ago, buying the Statler Towers and pledging to restore them to their former grandeur. He sought no public money and was greeted as a hero. He pledged that he would build the tallest skyscraper in Buffalo just off Niagara Square, and proposed an underground parking garage under the square to accommodate visitors’ parking needs. He even promised that a speedboat he bought would be available for the use of Statler guests and residents. 

Having renovated an elevator or two, he left town, selling the property at a loss in a flurry of litigation and bankruptcy filings, and his entire phony empire crumbled quickly around him


  • I may have been on the boat when that photo was snapped.

  • Kind of an odd thing to celebrate.  The guy turned out to be a total dud, that is for sure.  But in Buffalo’s case, I think it was hardly a case of fraud.  I believe he had intentions of doing what he boasted about – it wasn’t some corrupt scheme to fool us all.  In the end he was a kid.  He wasn’t as smart as he thought he was, his money couldn’t just make anything happen and he probably never had to endure the discipline of what it took to earn that money he had.  Its too bad, but I think most were skeptical from the beginning.

    Actually – believe it or not, positive results did come of it.  Had he never bought the Statler, it likely would never have emptied out and gone into foreclosure as it did.  It would have hung on in a meandering existence as a place with a few floors filled with state offices, a crappy caterer on a crumbling first floor.  The building would probably continue to deteriorate for a few more decades as it had for the decades prior.  Now I am no Mark Croce fan, but the necessary steps are (SLOWLY) being taken for the building’s redevelopment.  Structural issues have been addressed, the exterior is being stabilized and the first floors have been nicely renovated.  There is a lot of work to happen still for sure – but had this building never gone through Bashar, we’re probably not at this point for another 15 years.

    I think some people get personally offended when certain efforts are championed.  Bashar was championed, and failed.  Miserably.  Its too bad.

    • You’re certainly right on Issa’s purchase of the Statler not being a scheme. I found it odd that comments on this article (, which I published in AV shortly after being canned by Issa, referred to him as a “snake-oil salesman”. Terrible businessman, yes. Swindler, no. He lost a ton of money here.

      • Though, to be clear, if the UK authorities’ allegations are true he is now a swindler.

        • I have been following this case and the tax advice given by Deloitte’s to whom he paid £15,000 for that advice put him in this position. One jury member was thrown off for sending text messages and another for searching Google about the defendants, something they were forbidden to do. So after six weeks ten jurors who probably didn’t understand what was going on found him guilty. He was only guilty of taking expensive professional advice.

          Yes he was over ambitious with the Satler project but had the banking crisis not occurred, he would have been able to carry on and compete that project. For sure he would have had to learn a lot about US labor laws and other local issues but by the time he finished he would have been an expert.

          Such a shame that he has ended up in this position.

    • A lot of snake oil was sold, and the kid came in with a compelling story, a lot of bling, a lot of promises, and told us all we were pretty. 

      If he had innocent intentions, he was so naive and over his head as to constitute recklessness. 

      • I’m not sure innocent is the right word, but naive certainly is.  He was reckless only really to the point of his own calamity.  What he did – did not put the statler in any worse position than it was and he never ran over any waters skiers with his yacht.  He brought some big thinking to a City that could use some big thinking – there just wasn’t a whole lot of substance behind it. 

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