A Chinese restaurant owner, who stole more than \u00a31m in tax by claiming his business \u201cmade pottery\u201d and had a \u201ctiny turnover\u201d, has been jailed for three years.\r\n\r\nChin Seong Lam, 60, from Barnet, north London, owned outlets at the O2 Arena in North Greenwich and at Gun Wharf Quays shopping centre in Portsmouth, Hampshire. He failed to declare cash payments, fraudulently pocketing \u00a31m in tax, an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation uncovered.\r\n\r\nBoth businesses used a similar scam when they opened, in North Greenwich, the Water Margin restaurant registered for VAT in April 2013 and was described as \u201cmanufacturing pottery with an estimated yearly turnover of \u00a310,000\u201d. The actual annual turnover of the restaurant was \u00a35.1m.\r\n\r\nIn Portsmouth, the Water Margin registered as an \u2018Art Illustration Company\u2019 with a turnover of \u00a310,000 per year. HMRC found that between February 2013 and March 2016 the figure was in fact \u00a35.3m. The restaurant went into liquidation in September 2016.\r\n\r\nLam declared just \u00a32,100 in self assessment income between December 2014 and November 2016 despite being a director of both restaurants.\r\n\r\nHMRC officers swooped on the North Greenwich eatery a month after a new company took it over in February 2017, and the owners had mirrored the behaviour of the other companies, in being listed at Companies House as being an \u201cartistic creation\u201d company. Lam was also planning to operate a new company from the sidelines, but it never traded.\r\n\r\nLam was arrested on 10 March 2017, with the North Greenwich outlet and his home searched that day.\r\n\r\nRichard Wilkinson, assistant director at the Fraud Investigation Service of HMRC, said: \u201cLam made millions and paid very little tax, rubbing law-abiding taxpayers\u2019 noses in it. The cash he pocketed was the equivalent to the starting salary of 130 new nurses in London for an entire year.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe will continue to pursue criminals who think it is acceptable to charge their customers VAT and pocket the money for their own benefit. Anyone with information about tax fraud should report it to HMRC online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.\u201d\r\n\r\nOn 23 November 2018 at Harrow Crown Court, Lam admitted VAT fraud and money laundering and on 20 December 2018, was sentenced to three years in jail. Confiscation proceedings to recover assets will now begin.