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Prison for tax evasion to fund gambling debt

May 16, 2019

A Christchurch businessman who lost just over $895,000 gambling has been sentenced to three years imprisonment after pleading guilty to tax evasion charges.

Chung Tuyen La traded as a chicken and fish wholesaler under the name Wycola Chicken. He admitted knowingly providing false information to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue with intent to evade the assessment or payment of $900,000 in tax. He was sentenced today in the Christchurch District Court.

Inland Revenue spokesperson Tony Morris says between October 2009 and July 2015 La completed false income tax and GST returns that under-reported income from sales.

“An investigation revealed a number of bank transactions in La's personal bank accounts. The transactions included cash and cheque deposits and electronic transfers that appeared to be related to Wycola Chicken,” Tony Morris says.

“La filled-out cheques for customers which they then signed. He also told some to write the cheque out to him rather than the company or told them to pay the money into a personal bank account in his name.

“He told us he hadn’t received any other income other than what was recorded in the company accounts and that he had made money through gambling. But a review showed that he had in fact made considerable losses at casinos, totalling $895,014."

“Money that doesn’t go through company bank accounts is often used to fund lifestyle spending on things like overseas holidays or gambling. But funding gambling losses to this extent is hard to explain to investigators when very little has been drawn down from the business account or private bank accounts.

“Honest New Zealanders can be assured that Inland Revenue won’t let tax cheats get away with stealing tax money that would normally go towards funding vital services such as hospitals, schools and roads,” Tony Morris says.

La has also been ordered to pay reparation of at least $800,000.