THE owner of a Chester curry house has been sentenced to two years in prison for failing to pay more than £93,000 in VAT.

Ataur Rahman Hashim, 41, told the authorities that his restaurant Step In India on Foregate Street had stopped trading in December 2011.

But an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found the company continued to operate after this but did not declare any earnings.

Hashim, of Tarvin Road, Chester, failed to register for VAT or pay it despite trading over the VAT threshold since April 2012.

The fraud was uncovered when investigators found he had received card payments and online takeaway orders totalling £560,013 between April 2012 and March 2017.

In total, Hashim pocketed £93,335 VAT which should have been paid to HMRC.

He pleaded guilty to VAT fraud at Chester Crown Court on January 17 this year and was jailed for two years at the same court on March 2.

Hashim was also disqualified from being a company director for 10 years and proceedings are now underway to recover the stolen money.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Hashim thought he could hide his income and steal money which should have been used to fund our vital public services. He was wrong and now he is paying the price.

“HMRC will continue to pursue tax criminals like Hashim who think stealing VAT is a legitimate way to do business. Anyone with information about tax fraud should report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”