Restaurant owners served up jail terms for £800k fraud

Four men who ran a chain of upmarket Indian restaurants in the Midlands have been handed jail sentences totalling 10 years for an £800,000 fraud that saw them pocket staff tips and hide sales to evade tax

Mohammed Uddin, Mizanur Rahman, and Sadiqur Rahman, from Wednesbury, along with Abul Kamal, of West Bromwich, lied about takings to evade more than £500,000 in tax at their Panache restaurants, an investigation by HMRC revealed.

All four men also committed a further £295,000 in tax credits fraud by lying about their income.

HMRC investigators found that the men hid the majority of their cash takings and pocketed staff tips at their Sutton Coldfield restaurant to evade tax.

The Rahmans also failed to pay £240,000 VAT on the sale of their Stafford and Lichfield restaurants.

More than £300,000 from the sale of the two properties was paid into an account controlled by Sadiqur Rahman. Some of the money was sent to Bangladesh, but it was nearly all withdrawn within 21 days.

Mizanur Rahman spent money on holidays to Florida, Mauritius and Dubai. More than £175,000 was sent to Bangladesh and rental properties were also bought in the Midlands.

HMRC investigators arrested the men in 2015 and found paper and computer records at the homes of Uddin and Mizanur Rahman detailing how they had systematically suppressed cash takings.

All four admitted fraud during a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court. The Rhamans were each jailed for three years and Uddin and Kamal both received suspended two-year prison sentences. All four men were also disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 24 years.

In jailing the men, Judge William Edis QC, said: ‘This was an extensive, planned and prolonged tax fraud. You systematically, regularly and frequently under declared sales at the Sutton Coldfield restaurant and kept shadow books that showed the true picture.

‘These frauds took place over six years with the creation of a bogus paper trail. It was sustained and planned.’

HMRC has recovered more than £538,000 so far, but confiscation proceedings to recover the remaining proceeds of crime will follow.

Richard Mayer, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: ‘These fraudsters abused the tax system in a cynical and systematic way to help fund their lifestyles. They took money intended for staff and deprived public services of vital funding by stealing from the taxpayer.’

Report by Pat Sweet

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