Bar bosses jailed for VAT fraud

BAR owners Mukesh Patel and Harishchandra Desai, who were set to face trial at Swindon Magistrates Court for food hygiene offences, have had the case against them dropped because they are in prison for VAT fraud.

Patel, 55, and Desai, 61, were trading as Constino Developments in the case of Zen Bar in Cricklade Road, Gorse Hill, and both were directors of the company.

Both men were due to appear at court this Friday, but a spokesman for Swindon Council said the case has now been dropped after it was discovered the pair are already behind bars.

As well as Zen Bar, the pair also ran Pizza Hut takeaways in Southamp-ton, Poole and Bourn-emouth from October 2002 to September 2011.

They have each been sentenced to 18 months in prison for failing to pay almost £600,000 in VAT.

HM Revenue & Customs put their VAT fraud over a four-year period down to “greed and desire” in December when they were sentenced, and praised Pizza Hut for its co-operation during the investigation.

Patel, of Bassett Green Road, Southampton, and Desai, of Exbury Road, Blackfield, Hampshire, were franchisees of Pizza Hut UK Ltd and traded as Pizza Delivery Services Ltd.

HMRC criminal investigators and Pizza Hut analysed sales data and records, which revealed that between 2007 and 2011 they had cheated the public purse out of £598,415.

They suppressed sales figures by telling HMRC they received less in VAT from customers than they had, and in one year failed to declare any VAT at all. They were eventually discovered when HMRC investigators found discrepancies between the men’s declarations to HMRC and official records kept by Pizza Hut.

The men pleaded guilty at Southampton Crown Court on October 8 to cheating the public revenue.

The court heard the pair were not trying to gain personally, but were ploughing the money back into the businesses to keep them afloat.

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