“The duo believed they were above the law"
Two businessmen have been jailed for failing to pay the tax due on the profits they had made from successful house sales.
Himat Chana, aged 60, of Ilford, and Madhu Bhajanehatti, aged 45, of Keston, bought and sold over 50 properties across London between 2002 and 2009.
Southwark Crown Court heard that they were very successful, making a significant amount of profit.
A HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation revealed that while the businessmen disclosed some income on their self-assessment tax returns, they purposely hid the sales of properties across London and Essex.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) used HMRC’s analysis of the businessmen’s financial transactions to show that they failed to pay the necessary tax.
This resulted in a loss of £991,000 to HMRC.
Richard Wilkinson, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“The duo believed they were above the law and showed a blatant disregard to their obligations by failing to declare substantial income from property sales.
“HMRC continues to pursue those who attempt to hide their income and ensure everyone pays what they owe when they owe it.
“I urge anyone with information about any type of tax fraud to report it online or contact the HMRC fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”
HMRC officers found that the men had built up their property portfolios by using the money from previous sales. A property taskforce that was established to tackle fraud in the industry had uncovered the duo’s operation.
It was revealed that Bhajanehatti failed to pay £650,000 in tax while Chana evaded £341,000.
During a hearing in June 2019, Bhajanehatti pleaded guilty to fraud. Chana was convicted following a trial in August 2019.
On January 17, 2020, Bhajanehatti was jailed for four years and two months while Chana was sentenced to four years and four months in prison.
Sarah Place of the CPS said:
“These men exploited the lucrative potential of the London property market for their own selfish gain.”
“The loss to the taxpayer was considerable and it is crimes like this that we are absolutely committed to prosecuting.
“HMRC officers and prosecutors from Specialist Fraud Division worked together to ensure these defendants were brought to justice and are now facing the consequences of their fraudulent actions.”
Bhajanehatti was also told to pay back £190,086.42 under the Criminal Justice Act. He must pay the sum within three months or he faces a further two years and six months in prison.
Confiscation proceedings for Chana are ongoing. If further assets for Bhajanehatti are identified in the future, they could also be confiscated.