Fast-food businessman must pay €930,000 in unpaid taxes, penalties
A DIRECTOR of two firms which formerly held six Abrakebabra fast-food franchises has been ordered to pay almost €1m in unpaid taxes and penalties.
The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, said he was satisfied to grant judgment of €930,234 against Mustapha Belhout after rejecting as "utterly unconvincing and unbelievable" claims that he had never received the Revenue's assessment or notice of demand.
The Revenue had sought €930,000 of unpaid taxes and late penalties for arrears of income taxes for the years 2002 to the end of 2008.
The court heard that Mr Belhout's assessment was made after books and records were seized during a garda raid, in December 2009, on six Abrakebabra premises in Dublin which Revenue said were owned and operated by Mr Belhout.
The inspection of those records showed that Mr Belhout had understated his taxable income for the tax years 2005-2008. In addition, he had not paid tax based on returns for the years 2002-2004.
Seeking the judgment, Anthony Collins SC, for Revenue, said that notices of Mr Belhout's assessment were served to him at his given address, The Grove, Abbey Farm, Celbridge, Co Kildare, in May 2010. These were followed up with letters of demand in June 2010 and a warning notice was sent to him in July 2010.
Mr Belhout denied that he owed the sum claimed by Revenue and told the court that he believed his personal tax affairs were in order. He claimed that he did not receive a notice of assessment or other forms of communication or demands from Revenue as he was not resident at the address in Celbridge, following his separation from his wife.
He said that he was a former director of Oakbel Restaurant Ltd and Baggot Foods Ltd, which had run the six Abrakebabra outlets.
Under cross-examination from Mr Collins, Mr Belhout said after his separation he remained in Celbridge, living a close distance from his former home. He had lived at an address in Castletown, Celbridge since 2010.
He accepted he had used The Grove, Abbey Farm, Celbridge as his address on an affidavit he swore in respect of Revenue's action in January 2011.
He also admitted that it was the address he gave to the gardai following his arrest in March 2011 when he was charged with breaches of the Employment Permits Acts. He agreed that he was convicted and fined at Dublin District Court last September after he pleaded guilty to five offences.
Mr Justice Kearns granted judgment against Mr Belhout in favour of the Collector General. The judge added that he found Mr Belhout's demeanour and answers "utterly unconvincing and unbelievable".