Abrakebabra franchisee ordered to pay €1m in unpaid taxes and penalties

A director of two firms that formerly held six Abrakebabra franchises has been ordered by the president of the High Court to pay almost €1m in unpaid taxes and penalties.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns granted judgment for €930,234 against Mustapha Belhout after rejecting as “utterly unconvincing and unbelievable” his claims of not receiving the Revenue’s assessment or notice of demand.

The Collector General had sought judgment for arrears of income taxes for the years 2002 to the end of 2008, plus penalties.

The Revenue assessment was made after books and records were seized during a Garda raid in December 2009 of six Abrakebabra premises in Dublin which, the Revenue argued, were owned and operated by Mr Belhout.

An inspection showed Mr Belhout had understated his taxable income for the tax years 2005-2008, the Revenue said. He had also not paid taxes based on returns made for 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Anthony Collins, for the Revenue, said notices of assessment were served on Mr Belhout at his given address The Grove, Abbey Farm, Celbridge Co Kildare, in May 2010. Those notices were followed up with letters of demand in June 2010 and a warning notice in July 2010.

The warning notice was returned to Revenue but the letter of demand and notices of assessment, which were not appealed, were not returned. No payment was received.

Mr Belhout told the court he believed that his personal tax affairs were in order.

He claimed he had not received a notice of assessment or other forms of communication or demands from Revenue prior to the court proceedings. He was not resident at the address in Celbridge following his separation from his wife, he said.

He argued failure to put him on notice of the tax liability denied him the opportunity to appeal the assessment and, in those circumstances, the Revenue action was premature.

Mr Belhout said he was a former director of Oakbel Restaurant and Baggot Foods which had run the six Abrakebabra outlets. Any dealings he had with Revenue were in relation to them, he argued.

Cross-examined by Mr Collins, Mr Belhout said he remained in Celbridge after his separation. He said he was working for his wife’s company Kamdy’s since 2010.

He accepted he had used The Grove, Abbey Farm, Celbridge, as his address on an affidavit sworn in Jan 2011 relating to the Revenue action.

He also gave that address to the Garda when he was arrested in Mar 2011 and subsequently charged with breaches of the Employment Permits Acts. He was convicted and fined last September after pleading guilty to five offences under the act.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Kearns said he was satisfied to grant judgment against Mr Belhout in favour of the Collector General.


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