Tax fraud charges against restaurateur Frank Dowling, who was arrested in 2013 as part of an investigation, have been thrown out of court by a judge.
Dowling, who ran Union Square, American Bar & Grill and Inc Club in the O2 arena in London as part of a £20-million-year turnover business, was arrested at his Greenwich home after his businesses collapsed into administration.
The 48-year-old, who opened his first bar in 2003, was acquitted when the Crown Prosecution offered no evidence after a four-year investigation into allegedly undeclared VAT and PAYE.
US-born Dowling is now considering legal action against companies and organisations that have been proved of wrongdoing.
"I am delighted that these charges have been thrown out by the judge. They were ill-founded, ill-conceived and just plain wrong," he said. "The original accusations were made by individuals to forward their own commercial interests and accepted by authorities, although they had proof to the contrary. My family and I have been through hell as they tried everything they could to ruin me.
"It has been devastating for my business interests as many third parties decided to treat me as guilty and sought illegal and immoral means to seek commercial advantage, but the truth is out there for everyone to see now. There's a feeling of relief that it is over but also anger at what they have put me through and how much money has been wasted."
Dowling, who was brought up in New York, started his working life in construction in New York City before moving to London to work on property development project at Canary Wharf.
His first bar was opened in Greenwich in 2003 and he became the first restaurateur to sign a lease for a venue at the O2 Arena. He subsequently built up a portfolio of venues under the banner of the Inc Group, which grew to 23 restaurants, pubs and bars across the capital, Leeds, and Bristol.
Commenting on the case, a CPS spokesperson said: "The CPS keeps all cases under regular review in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Following a review of this case, prosecutors were no longer satisfied that the evidential stage of the test under the code was met and therefore made the decision to offer no evidence."
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