A restaurateur who used a ‘secret’ book to record his true takings has been sentenced today after he was investigated for VAT offences by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Ajir Ali, 35, of Barlow Street, Bradford, omitted sales totalling £303,964 from the official accounts of The Chilli Lounge on Huddersfield Road in Halifax between December 2011 and September 2014, enabling him to evade a £50,494 VAT bill.
Jo Tyler, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to rip off the taxpayer. But unfortunately for Ali, it was also a fraud that had been well-documented – by his own hand.
“HMRC is committed to identifying and prosecuting anyone who thinks they can choose what goes through their till, and what goes into their pockets.”
The fraud was uncovered when an HMRC taskforce, set up to tackle tax evasion in the restaurant industry, conducted an unannounced inspection of The Chilli Lounge on 19 September 2014.
During an examination of Ali’s paperwork, officers discovered two sales books covering the same period – one with significantly lower cash takings.
After pleading guilty to the fraudulent evasion of VAT, Ali was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work by His Honour Judge Burn at Bradford Crown Court.