Restaurateur cooked the VAT books to pay school fees

The owner of a Surrey restaurant who used money from a VAT fraud to pay her children’s school fees has been jailed following an HMRC investigation

Huey Jun Khoo, along with business partner Jing Fu, used an off-the-record card machine at the Bon East Chinese restaurant in Farnham to pocket £180,000 in VAT over four years, investigators found.

Khoo and Fu, both directors of the restaurant, were caught after HMRC officers made a surprise visit in May 2015 and found two card reading machines – one linked to a business bank account and the other to a bank account, which Khoo had opened in the name of one of the restaurant’s chefs.

Customer payments made into the ‘chef’ account were never declared to HMRC, to evade paying VAT.

Following the HMRC visit, the pair burned the business records in a failed bid to hide their crimes. Two documents which Khoo kept were discovered at her home in April 2016. Investigators also found £12,000 in cash hidden in a wardrobe in the couple’s home.

Khoo, and her husband Yong Hong Lu, both of Farnham, Surrey, used the stolen cash for school fees, designer clothes and holidays.

Khoo admitted evading VAT, money laundering and perverting the course of justice while Fu admitted money laundering and perverting the course of justice and Lu was convicted of money laundering.

At Southwark Crown Court Khoo was sentenced to three years and nine months in prison and disqualified as a director for six years. Lu received a two year jail term, and Fun was given a seven-month sentence, suspended for two years and 120 hours of unpaid community work.

The £12,000 cash found at the couple’s home was forfeited. HMRC says it will be pursuing action to recover the rest of the stolen money.

Pat Sweet

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