Arch anti-capitalist comedian Russell Brand, who has previously called for an ‘orgy’ of bank bashing in the wake of the financial crisis, will see his next film financed by £1m raised from a group of City-based investors who will benefit from tax breaks through the enterprise investment scheme (EIS)
The comedian now faces charges of hypocrisy after details emerged over the financing arrangements for Brand the film. Due out next year, this will be co-produced by Mayfair Film Partnership, of which Brand is listed as a director since 9 August 2010 according to Companies House.
Shares in the firm worth £973,000 were sold to 21 outside investors five years ago. A quarter were bought by footballer Wes Brown, the former England and Manchester United defender, while the rest went to executives working at City banks or institutions, who will be claiming tax relief via EIS, one of the government's business tax reliefs.
The finance was originally sought for a film project with the title Happiness, to be produced by Oliver Stone who has a string of Hollywood successes with documentary-style films on subjects including US presidents Nixon and JFK, but these plans fell through.
The revamped film is said to portray Brand as a ‘troubled visionary’ seeking to change the world. Brand has previously been outspoken on what he regards as the evils of global capitalism, urging workers to refuse to pay taxes to bring down the system and calling profit a ‘filthy word’.
However, recent newspaper comment has focused on the apparent gulf between the comedian’s public statements and the film’s financing arrangements.
Brand is on the record during television discussion panels saying of the financial crisis: ‘When looking for the culprits... look for the people who have got loads of bonuses and loads of money, they’re the people that are criminal; they’re the people that need to be prosecuted.’
EIS is designed to help smaller higher-risk trading companies to raise finance by offering a range of tax reliefs to investors who purchase new shares in those companies. HMRC guidance warns that both investors and companies should note that no relief will be given (or if it has been given, it will be withdrawn) if any scheme has as its main purpose, or one of its main purposes, the avoidance of tax. However, it does add that 'the tax reliefs available under the EIS are of course not considered to be avoidance of tax'.