By Tony Winterburn • 09 October 2020 • 8:38
A Papa John’s franchisee is suspected of a €280,000 (£250,000) Eat Out to Help Out scam.
An investigation by the Daily Mail has revealed that a millionaire takeaway pizza chain tycoon is suspected of stealing more than €280,000 of taxpayers’ cash by claiming fake Eat Out to Help Out meals.
Raheel Choudhary, who owns 61 Papa John’s franchise restaurants is the US giant’s largest UK franchisee, allegedly instructed staff to record thousands of ‘phantom covers’ while the Government scheme was running, according to whistleblowers and sales reports seen by the newspaper.
Because these non-existent meals were classed as ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, the UK taxpayer footed half the bill. What is blatantly obvious is that most of his restaurants were not even eligible for the offer – the scheme requires diners to eat in – because they were collection and delivery only.
It is understood that Mr Choudhary promised his managers bonuses for putting in large numbers of fake orders. Whistleblowers say he was driven by ‘greed’ as his franchises had already seen a surge in business during the first virus wave as more people ordered takeaways. Workers who raised objections were threatened with the sack or reduced hours if they spoke out. Because there was no revenue from the fake meals, staff were told to record the ‘payments’ as vouchers.
The Daily Mail has offered to show HMRC its evidence. It said it would check claims and take action to recover any payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate.
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