A millionaire lawyer from Greenwich has been jailed for ten years for his “astonishing greed” in a tax fraud while masquerading as an environmentalist.

Rodney Whiston-Dew, 67, was one of six members of a gang which lured wealthy individuals to invest in largely fake environmental projects with the promise of a tax break.

Southwark Crown Court heard how the former president of the London Rotary Club, whose address is New Capital Quay, on the banks of the Thames, set up complex offshore structures to disguise the true nature of the fraud.

But a ten-year investigation by the HMRC examined the complicated and contrived bank and paper transactions - and it was eventually revealed that the British Government had missed out on around £100 million in unpaid tax.

Father-of-four Whiston-Dew and the ringleader of the operation, engineer Michael Richards, 55, from Alfriston in East Sussex Richards, were both found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and cheating the public revenue.

Sentencing the men, His Honour Mr Justice Andrew Edis said: “You played with high stakes and lost. It was bare-faced dishonesty and you did everything to inflict loss on the public, the people who pay their taxes, who were also victims.

“It was utter dishonesty, sophisticated planning and astonishing greed hidden behind a mask of concern for the environment.”

Whiston-Dew was said to have made £1.3m from the fraud while Richards received personally more than £7.4m from his fraudulent activities, using the funds to buy influence with charities and other organisations, the court heard.

Whiston-Dew had also used this experience in the past to help wealthy South African businessmen circumvent Apartheid trade embargoes.

Richards was jailed for 11 years. The four other gang members were also jailed.

Following the court hearing, Simon York, director of Fraud Investigation Service at the HMRC said: “This was an audacious and cynical fraud on an astonishing scale, characterised by greed and a complete disregard for the ecological causes the perpetrators claimed to be supporting. Instead the group spent investors’ money on their own lavish lifestyles.

“These individuals thought they had worked out the perfect fraud. At every step they used contrived offshore structures, complex transactions and blatant lies in an attempt to hide their tracks and derail our criminal investigation.

“But the determination and professionalism of our teams has shown, yet again, that we will not hesitate to bring fraudsters to justice. Work has now begun to recover the proceeds of this crime in order to fund vital public services.”