A multi-million-pound high-rise development in Cardiff may not get off the ground as the man behind it is in jail for tax avoidance.
60-year-old Philip Bowles (pictured left), from Maidenhead, was convicted in June 2009 for three and a half years after evading a £1.3m VAT bill for the sale of land in Cardiff.
Mr Bowles, who was the lead developer for the Havannah Quay development in Butetown, was investigated by HMRC after the sale in 1999 of the £7.5m piece of land known as ‘Taff Island’.
HMRC said Mr Bowles failed to pay the VAT bill for ‘Taff Island’ which is now the Century Wharf development off Dumballs Road.
A spokesman for Persimmon Homes, which bought Westbury Homes, confirmed they had bought the land for Century Wharf from Mr Bowles in 1999.
The Havannah Quay development, also off Dumballs Road, was being proposed by Mr Bowles, but now faces being canned by Cardiff council’s planning committee this afternoon.
Council planning officers said they had dealt with Mr Bowles as the lead contact on the Havannah Quay development – but had not heard from him for some time. Architects Holder Mathias said they hadn’t done any work on the scheme for about two and a half years.
The Havannah Quay scheme would have seen 2,000 new homes, offices and a 24-storey five-star international hotel. It’s estimated the project would have created 2,700 jobs.
It was granted outline planning permission in December 2007, but Cardiff council decided to review the application and refuse it after failing to reach a Section 106 legal agreement over community benefits.
The Section 106 deal would have seen developers building a new cycling and pedestrian bridge over the River Taff, a ‘creative-hub’ for start-up businesses and open community spaces.
View a map showing the location of the Havannah Quay development
View Havannah Quay development in a larger map
Ocean Developments Ltd, a landowning company, and Airfrieght Express Ltd were both owned by Mr Bowles. The website for the Havannagh Quay development – www.havannah-quay.com – is registered to the same address in West Drayton, Middlesex, as Ocean Developments Ltd.
His Honour Judge King when sentencing Mr Bowles in June 2009 at Oxford Crown Court said he had been using money from his land owning business to keep his aircraft business afloat.
He said: “I am satisfied that the fraud was not committed in order for you to line your own pockets but by milking funds owed to HMRC to keep your aircraft industry business afloat. You knew the financial difficulties and you equally knew the money was not yours and was that of the tax authorities.
“You made excuse after excuse, blaming others at every stage and deliberately misleading every department of HMRC. I consider this a very serious cheat and a substantial custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Peter Avery, Assistant Director, HMRC Criminal Investigations said: “Tax evasion is serious, blatant theft and we will continue to pursue those trading fraudulently to the full extent of the law. This sentence will serve as a deterrent to anyone who thinks that tax fraud is a risk worth taking.”
Mr Bowles appealed against his conviction, but it was dimissed in June 2010 at the Court of Appeal in London.
Mr Bowles will this week have served a third of his sentence but has still not had a ‘confiscation hearing’ with the HMRC where they work out how much of the money can be reclaimed by the state.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice refused to confirm whether Mr Bowles was still in prison.
Phone calls to Ocean Developments Ltd and Mr Bowles have not been answered.