An Indian restaurant owner who lined his pockets by stealing the VAT he charged his customers for takeaway meals has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Sokrum Ahmed, 47, who owns Red Chilli in Whitechapel, East London, creamed off the £117,000 VAT he charged customers over four years of sales via online delivery services.
He also under-declared sales to diners who ate at the restaurant in his accounts.
The fraud was uncovered by a taskforce set up by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to tackle tax dodgers in the restaurant industry.
Officers found Ahmed had used a secret bank account in an attempt to hide the money.
Mark Cox, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Ahmed thought he could stash his cash away and cheat UK taxpayers. He was wrong and is paying the price for his greed. Those who avoid paying their taxes steal money needed to fund vital public services and create an uneven playing field for honest competitors.”
On sentencing, His Honour Judge W Kennedy said: “As well as being a fraud on HMRC this was a fraud on your customers. You were thoroughly dishonest, and for a sustained period, and I should send you to prison, but I’m determined there should be no further loss to the public purse.”
Ahmed was given a two-year suspended jail sentence, fined £75,000, ordered to pay compensation and undertake unpaid work.