Jail sentence takeaway for fraudulent curry house owner

The owner of an Indian restaurant in Staffordshire has been jailed for two years after test purchases by HMRC inspectors of meals at his curry house revealed a £90,000 tax fraud

At Manchester Crown Court, Monir Miah admitted lying about his income from The Crown of India restaurant, in High Street, Stone, and falsifying VAT repayment claims, after he was investigated by HMRC.

He was sentenced to two years in imprisonment, with half to be served in custody and the rest on a licence.

Routine tax checks raised concerns and Miah was offered the chance to put his tax affairs in order, declare any mistakes or irregularities and pay what he owed in full, plus interest and penalties, through HMRC’s civil contractual disclosure facility (CDF) known as ‘COP9’.

But Miah only declared half the business the restaurant was doing and deregistered for VAT because the restaurant was allegedly doing so badly.

HMRC began a criminal prosecution as Miah had failed to make a full disclosure. The investigation clearly showed how he was illegally under-declaring the true scale of his restaurant business.

HMRC officers discovered the true scale of the business by tracing customer payments, counting customers on the premises, and doing test purchases on specific dates, which were compared with his records and tax returns.

Paul Maybury, assistant director, fraud investigation Service, HMRC, said: ‘While Miah, and his family, enjoyed the illegal untaxed income from his restaurant he was depriving public services of vital funding and gave himself an unfair advantage over his honest competitors.

‘He was offered the opportunity to put his tax affairs in order through the CDF. Instead he made a conscious decision to make only a partial disclosure of the tax offences he had committed. He could have been spared a criminal conviction had he fully cooperated with HMRC.’

On sentencing Miah, His Honour Judge Walsh said the crime was ‘was sophisticated in the way it was carried out. It was an intentional act of dishonesty on your part and you were given opportunity in 2016 to come clean but declined that opportunity.

‘It was a calculated dishonesty designed to achieve a significant financial benefit to yourself and a loss to the revenue.’

HMRC said Miah becomes the sixth person to be convicted for failing to comply with the Contractual Disclosure Facility (CDF) in the last 18 months. The tax authority is in the process of recovering the unpaid tax.

Report by Pat Sweet

Pat Sweet |Reporter, Accountancy Daily [2010-2021]

Pat Sweet was the former online reporter at Accountancy Daily and contributor to the monthly Accountancy magazine, pub...

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