Four of the operators of upmarket Indian restaurant brand Panache in the West Midlands have been handed prison sentences after being charged with fraud.
Mohammed Sharif Uddin, 48, Mizanur Rahman, 44, Sadiqur Rahman, 45, all of Wednesbury, and Abul Kamal, 41, of West Bromwich were found to have lied about their earnings to evade more than half a million pounds worth of tax.
They also lied about their income, earning another £295,000 in fraudulent tax credits. One of the men, Mizabur Rhaman, is understood to have spent money on holidays to Florida, Mauritius and Dubai, while more than £175,000 was sent to Bangladesh.
HMRC has recovered more than £538,000 so far, and is unertaking confiscation proceedings. The fate of the restaurants is currently unclear.
In jailing the men, Judge William Edis QC, said: "This was an extensive, planned and prolonged tax fraud. You systematically, regularly and frequently under declared sales at the restaurant in Sutton Coldfield and kept shadow books that showed the true picture.
"These frauds took place over six years with the creation of a bogus paper trail. It was sustained and planned."
Mizanur and Sadiqur Rahman both received three-year prison sentences while Uddin and Kamal were handed suspended two-year sentences.
All four have been disqualified from serving as a director of a company for a total of 24 years.
Richard Mayer, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: "These fraudsters abused the tax system in a cynical and systematic way to help fund their lifestyles. They took money intended for staff and deprived public services of vital funding by stealing from the taxpayer.
"They are all now paying the price and we will be taking the money back from them. If you believe someone is benefitting from tax fraud please call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887."