Kebab restaurant owner guilty of fraud

AN IPSWICH kebab restaurant owner made fraudulent benefit claims for five years, a court heard.

AN IPSWICH kebab restaurant owner made fraudulent benefit claims for five years, a court heard.

Ali Celebi failed to tell Ipswich Borough Council that he owned Best Kebabs Limited in Falcon Street, while he claimed more than �2,000 in housing and council tax benefits.

The 51-year-old of Donegal Road, also failed to declare that his wife was working, the amount of money in their bank accounts, that he owned another property in London and that he received rent payments from that house.

South East Suffolk Magistrates heard that the claims had been fraudulent from the outset and resulted in Celebi receiving �1,305.24 in council tax benefit and �953.53 in housing benefit.

Celebi pleaded guilty through an interpreter to six charges of producing a false statement to obtain benefit between June 24, 2002 and June 25, 2007.

Neil Saunders, mitigating, said his client had paid back all the council tax overpayment and more than half of the housing benefit.

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He said although the frauds were committed over a long period of time the amount in question was “not high”.

The court heard that if Celebi had have disclosed his income the amount of benefit he received would have been “significantly reduced if not eliminated”.

The probation service provided magistrates with a fast delivery report to aid sentencing.

Celebi told the probation officer he was willing to pay a fine but could not do unpaid work because of his age and varicose veins.

He also said he would loose his business if he did unpaid work as his restaurant opened on average 15 hours a day and he had no time to do extra work.

He said the kebab shop was not profitable and he had no savings in the bank.

Magistrates ordered Celebi to do 120 hours unpaid work within a year and warned him that any missed probation appointments could result in a breach of the order and further punishment.

He was told to pay �150 towards court costs.

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