A fish and chip shop owner from North East Lincolnshire has been jailed for three and half years after failing to pay nearly £1.4 million in VAT and taxes over six years.
Sadit Sabir, owner of Seaway in Cleethorpes and St James Fisheries in Grimsby, committed the fraud between 2009 and 2015. A criminal inquiry began in April 2016 after a difference between VAT receipts and sales was identified. Self-assessment forms were then examined which revealed the extent of the under-declaration.
A search by HMRC investigators of Sadit’s home, which he paid for using over £600,000 in cash and which was registered in his father’s name, found a suitcase in a wardrobe containing more than £60,000. Financial documents were also uncovered revealing further evidence of the fraud.
According to the court, Sadit tried to blame his accountant and former wife, who did the book-keeping.
With both shops facing possible closure following the verdict, Judge Paul Watson QC said: “It is said that by imposing a custodial sentence I could be putting people out of work or putting their livelihoods in jeopardy. It is not me that is putting these people out of work, it is you, by reason of your greed and dishonesty.”
Proceedings will start later in the year to try and recover some of the unpaid money.