Russell Fox, who runs the Little Fish Shop in Sandgate, was caught tax dodging. He must pay back £200,000 in two weeks or faces prison

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A fish and chip shop owner who was caught dodging tax has been given two weeks to pay £200,000 back to the tax office – or spend three years behind bars.

Russell Fox, who lives in Maidstone, was caught out by HM Revenue and Customs investigators who found he had been lying about the income of his business, the Little Fish Shop in Sandgate, for six years.

They discovered the 43-year-old had routinely provided his accountant with rewritten weekly takings sheets that were lower than those provided by his manager.

Till rolls were also missing and cash deducted from the true takings spreadsheets ranged from £365 to £5,250 per week.

Investigators found that between 2005 and 2011, Fox failed to pay income tax of over £91,000 and national insurance contributions of more than £15,000.

He also swindled his VAT returns, resulting in an underpayment of almost £68,500.

Canterbury Crown Court ordered Fox to pay the £200,000 confiscation order after failing to pay £175,000 in tax and national insurance.

HMRC said the order included an amount to reflect the value of the fraud at today’s prices.

In addition, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He must also complete 250 hours community service and adhere to a three month curfew.

Assistant director, criminal investigation at HMRC, Martin Brown, said: “Russell Fox thought he could dupe our officers by ‘losing’ or destroying till receipts that would have shown the true turnover of the business.

“He failed to pay income tax and national insurance contributions, and lied about his business expenditure in order to underpay his VAT.

“HMRC will not hesitate to pursue those who seek to lie and cheat their way to an unfair tax advantage over those who abide by the law.”

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