NewsCrime Desk

Former Chinese restaurateur who made incorrect tax returns gets suspended sentence

Jonathan Cheung
Jonathan Cheung

A former Chinese restaurateur who made incorrect tax returns while keeping a “secret” ledger of accurate accounts written in Cantonese has been given a suspended sentence.

Jonathan Cheung (52) of The Paddocks, Ashtown Gate, Dublin 15 pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making incorrect VAT and P35 returns to the Office of the Collector General for dates between 2007 and 2009. He has no previous convictions.

In relation to the counts before the court the balance of VAT due including interest was €156,930 and for the P35 returns, covering the PAYE and PRSI liability, the total due was €179,584.

Judge Karen O'Connor noted that Cheung co-operated fully with the investigation and had made substantial efforts at restitution. She said he had a impressive record of hard work over his life, had expressed remorse and suffered a loss of reputation.

She imposed a two and a half year sentence which she suspended in full on the basis that he continue to make restitution.

Revenue officer Fiona Phelan told James Dwyer BL, prosecuting, that Cheung was a director of Kingsland Chinese Restaurant Ltd which was in liquidation since May 2009. That company had been trading as a Chinese restaurant on Dame Street, Dublin 2 from September 2005.

She said an audit of the company carried out for the year 2006 established there was an outstanding VAT, PAYE and PRSI liability. The company went into liquidation and the liquidator took possession of the books and records including a red ledger written in Cantonese.

The liquidator believed the red ledger, which recorded takings, expenses, lodgements and wages, was a secret record of the actual sales.

It was translated and transpired to have different figures than those given by Cheung to the accountant who prepared the returns to Revenue. This would mean a substantial under declaration of taxes.

Revenue began an investigation in January 2011 during which Cheung was interviewed and his home searched. It was established that the total tax due including interest at the time of liquidation was €336,514.

The court heard the High Court had made an order making Cheung and a co-accused personally liable for the debts of the company, which run to €1.9 million, and disqualifying them from holding the position of director for seven years.

Ms Phelan said an agreement had been reached between Cheung and the liquidator and as part of that a sum of money was handed over as well as an interest in property in Germany.

The court heard that it was estimated that €200,000 would be available at the end of the liquidation process in approximately two years time.

Ms Phelan agreed with Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, defending, that Cheung co-operated with them and made crucial admissions about the red ledger. She agreed he had put forward all he could towards the debts of the liquidation.

Mr O'Lideadha said Cheung had made enormous efforts to right wrongs and had expressed regrets about the offending. He handed in a letter of apology from his client.

He said Cheung had a difficult early life but he recognised he had done wrong and hoped to make amends. He came to Ireland at 16 years old to work with his father.

Counsel said Cheung was now working as an employee in a restaurant and was important in caring for his ill father. Testimonials were handed into court on his behalf.