The owner of a Surrey restaurant who used stolen VAT money to pay her children’s school fees has been jailed.

Huey Jun Khoo, along with her business partner Jing Fu, used an off-the-record card machine at the Bon East Chinese restaurant in Farnham to pocket £180,000 in VAT over four years, a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation found.

Khoo and Fu, both directors of the restaurant, were caught after HMRC officers made a surprise visit in May 2015 and found two card reading machines – one linked to a business bank account and the other to a bank account which Khoo had opened in the name of one of the restaurant’s chefs.

Customer payments made into the ‘chef’ account were never declared to HMRC, to evade paying VAT.

Following the HMRC visit, the pair burned the business records in a failed bid to hide their crimes. Two documents which Khoo kept were discovered at her home in April 2016. Investigators also found £12,000 in cash hidden in a wardrobe in the couple’s home.

Khoo, and her husband Yong Hong Lu, both of Old Compton Lane, Farnham, Surrey, used the stolen cash for school fees, designer clothes and holidays.

Khoo, 50, admitted evading VAT, money laundering and perverting the course of justice.

Fu, 49, admitted VAT evasion and perverting the course of justice. Lu, 51, was convicted of money laundering.

All three defendants appeared at Southwark Crown Court on Friday 10 May, where they were sentenced to:

Huey Jun Khoo: three years and nine months in prison. Disqualified as a director for six years.

Yong Hong Lu: two years in prison.

Jing Fu: seven months in prison, suspended for two years. 120 hours of unpaid community work. The £12,000 cash found at the couple’s home was forfeited. HMRC will be pursuing action to recover the rest of the stolen money.