Sussex

Sheikh pier owner fined over non-payment to HMRC

Sheikh Abid Gulzar
Image caption Sheikh Abid Gulzar owns two seafront hotels in Eastbourne and another in nearby Hailsham

An Eastbourne hotelier and the owner of Hastings pier has been fined £8,000 for failing to pay HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) almost £62,000.

Sheikh Abid Gulzar, 73, was instructed to pay security bonds to HMRC in March 2017, due to previous non-payments.

The sum was to "protect against any future tax defaults, based on his previous trading history", an HMRC spokesman said.

Gulzar pleaded guilty at Hastings Magistrates' Court.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Gulzar bought Hastings Pier (pictured) in 2018, having already purchased Eastbourne Pier

His two businesses, Mansion Lions Hotel Ltd and Albany Lions Hotel Ltd were also fined £4,000 each for failing to pay £40,000 and £22,000 respectively for Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and National Insurance contributions.

Speaking after the case, Richard Wilkinson, assistant director of HMRC's fraud investigation service, said: "HMRC made numerous attempts to engage with Gulzar, who was trading illegally as he failed to pay the security bonds and then tried to thwart the prosecution.

"It's only right that we tackle those businesses who fail to play by the rules."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A charity rebuilt the pier but went into administration in November 2017

Gulzar, of Grand Parade, Eastbourne, bought Hastings Pier in June 2018, despite a campaign to keep it owned locally.

The pier, which originally opened in 1872, was rebuilt thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding following a devastating fire in 2010.

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