AN East Renfrewshire businessman has been banned from running a company for nine years after a probe found he hid millions of pounds from the taxman.

Inderjit Singh and business partner Sukdev Gill launched their Cook and Indi’s World Buffet empire in 2010 and opened a string of eateries, including one in Darnley.

However, an investigation found 19 limited companies they had set up to run the restaurants participated in some form of tax misconduct, including under-declaring tax, failing to register for VAT and concealing tax owed.

The Insolvency Service, which launched the probe, said the business partners had concealed tax on a “grand scale.”

Singh, 47, of Giffnock, has been banned for nine years after he did not dispute trading through successor companies while also concealing VAT resulting in a loss of around £4.4million.

Gill, 55, of Lanarkshire, was found to have caused companies he was a director of to conceal VAT resulting in a loss for HMRC of almost £2m. He has been disqualified from acting as a company director for eight years.

Five companies they set up between 2010 and 2012 ceased to exist by March last year, with each entering into a form of insolvency, either by compulsory liquidation or Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

HMRC made enquiries into these firms before establishing that all five had been involved in tax misconduct.

After the companies went bust, Singh then set up successor companies, all of which traded as ‘Cook and Indi’s World Buffet,’ to continue the activities of the five companies that had gone through insolvency.

However, each of the 14 companies succumbed to the same fate as their predecessors and entered into a form of insolvency.

HMRC looked at the companies’ activities following their liquidation and discovered that Singh allowed the buffet restaurant businesses to conceal millions of pounds worth of unpaid tax from HMRC.

Similar to the actions of their predecessors, the new companies concealed VAT and under-declared tax contributions and failed to notify HMRC that new businesses were continuing the work of previous firm.

A spokesman Robert Clarke, chief investigator for the Insolvency Service, said: “Concealing and failing to pay tax on a grand scale like this was not an administrative error. The two directors knew exactly what they were doing and not only did the exchequer lose out, but the businesses gained an unfair advantage over competitors.

“Sukdev Gill and Inderjit Singh have received substantial bans, which will significantly curtail their activities. This should serve as a clear warning to others that, if you fail to observe your statutory duties as company directors, the penalties are severe.”

The disqualifications mean Singh and Gill are prohibited from being involved, directly or indirectly, in the formation, promotion or management of a company without permission from a court.