Takeaway boss given jail term for tax evasion

A SOUTH Yorkshire takeaway boss who cooked the books has been jailed for a year.

Hamid Zakeri, aged 44, was convicted at Sheffield Crown Court of failing to disclose the true extent of his income to investigators at HM Revenue and Customs.

Zakeri, formerly of Wakefield Road, Staincross, Barnsley, owns several food takeaway businesses in Barnsley.

Revenue officers began an investigation into Zakeri's business affairs in 2000, after they suspected he had failed to disclose vital information about his tax affairs.

Zakeri was both the owner and controlling influence of a number of local fast food outlets, but continually failed to declare any income from his businesses.

Zakeri pleaded his innocence, providing statements and financial documents which Revenue officers believed to be false. Further investigation revealed a number of undisclosed bank accounts through which more than 300,000 had passed.

Investigators also discovered paper records, after searching business premises in Barnsley and London, which revealed the true level of takings from his businesses.

Investigator David Cowie said: "Mr Zakeri was given every opportunity to disclose his true level of income but failed to do so.

"This case highlights the position we will take in cases where taxpayers do not give honest and accurate information about their earnings.

"Our department will rigorously pursue cases of this nature and individuals can expect appropriate treatment in the courts."

Sentencing Zakeri, who now lives in Wakefield, to 12 months' imprisonment Judge Patrick Robertshaw said: "It seems to me it was open to you to come clean with the Revenue. You chose instead to continue in a course of dishonest conduct.

"You have gained at the expense of the community and honest taxpayers."

The loss to the public purse in the case was stated by the judge to be around 220,000.

The case against Zakeri was prosecuted by the newly-established Revenue and Customs Prosecutions Office, an independent authority which reports to the Attorney General.

Anyone who suspects any business or individual of illegal trading or tax evasion, call 0800 59 5000 in confidence.