The Restaurant Tax Taskforce has secured yet another criminal conviction in its wide-ranging project to catch and punish tax fraud in the catering industry. This time two female restaurant owners from Surrey, and one of their husbands, were sentenced to a total of nearly 7 years in prison for tax fraud and associated money laundering.
Mrs Huey Jun Khoo (aged 50) and her business partner Ms Jing Fu (aged 49) used an off-record credit card machine at their Bon East Chinese restaurant in Farnham in order to fraudulently hide sales of around £1 million.
The pair were caught out by the highly successful HMRC Restaurant Tax Taskforce – which has been targeting the catering trade for the last 5 years or so. The HM Revenue and Customs investigators made a so called “unannounced visit” to the restaurant and found two card reading machines. One was properly linked to the business bank account, but the other machine was linked instead to an off-record bank account; opened by Khoo in the name of one of their chefs. A large number of customers unwittingly made their payments into the ‘chef’ account. Of course, those amounts were not recorded as sales in the business records and were never declared to HMRC, to evade paying tax.
Soon after the HMRC inspection the directors burned the business records. But by then it was too late. Also, during a search of Khoo’s home the tax inspectors discovered two incriminating documents which she hadn’t destroyed, along with £12,000 cash hidden in a wardrobe. The taxmen seized the cash.
Khoo pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of tax; money laundering; and perverting the course of justice. She was sentenced to three years and nine in prison.
Khoo’s husband, Mr Yong Hong Lu (aged 51) was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to two years in jail.
Khoo’s fellow director and business partner Ms Jing Fu (aged 49) admitted to the fraudulent evasion of tax and perverting the course of justice. She was sentenced to seven months, suspended for two years; and was ordered to serve 120 hours of unpaid community work.
The £12,000 cash seized at the couple’s home was forfeited. HMRC is taking action to recover the rest of the stolen money; using its powers under the Proceeds Of Crime Act.
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