A wealthy shop owner will not be sent to prison after being charged following a large-scale VAT probe.

Mohammed Ameen Mirza, 58, filed bogus declarations for his store in Glasgow's Gorbals and another in Cambuslang in April 2014.

There was a massive £4 million difference in sales resulting in the 58-year-old not paying £725,000 of VAT that he should have.

Glasgow Times:

Mirza - an influential businessman in the Scottish Asian community - has been photographed in the past alongside former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and ex-Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar highlighting charity project the politicians were part of.

Mirza pleaded guilty in August at Glasgow Sheriff Court to submitting VAT returns to HMRC which were false and not an accurate reflection of sales.

The charge spanned between December 2011 and April 2014.

Mirza also faced charges of possessing and concealing £474,800 of criminal property held in one of the shops, but a not guilty plea was accepted.

Sheriff Andrew Cubie told Mirza at Thursday's sentencing that Mirza will receive a fine after a proceeds of crime hearing in December.

He said: "What you pled guilty to is very different in character and seriousness than the charge you originally faced.

"These are still serious matters.

"It is clear from what's been said that the records were in a chaotic state.

"I'm satisfied that this matter does not require a prison sentence and can be met with a way of a fine which is an appropriate punishment and deterrent."

The court heard Mirza operated two Nisa stores as a sole trader since 1999.

He hired a book-keeper and an accountant to handle his business financial affairs.

In March 2012, HMRC contacted his accountant stating the shopkeeper had not recently made any VAT declarations.

They asked for business records, invoices, expense receipts, till rolls and weekly cash sheets to be produced.

The deadline was pushed back on numerous occasions and the submissions were finally made in April 2014.

The accountant stated that Mirza agreed the figures and that to his knowledge the returns were "true and accurate."

HMRC compared sales data from Nisa with the quarterly VAT returns.

Prosecutor Graham Macdonald said: "Due to the extent of the discrepancy apparent, the matter was passed to the criminal investigation team for review."

After search warrants were granted in October 2015, sales and business records were trawled through by officials.

It was found Mirza had declared sales totalling £5,073,510.

Mr Macdonald said: "An examination of the till data and other documents revealed the accurate value of the sales should have been declared in the sum of £9,467,167.

"Therefore, the sales undeclared by Mirza were in the sum of £4,393,657."

The total amount of VAT due from the sales of "supermarket products" was £1,266,955.

During this period, Mirza declared VAT payable to HMRC in the sum of £541,896.

Mr Macdonald added: "Mirza obtained an advantage in the sum of £725,059 since it was not paid to HMRC by him following the submission of erroneous returns in April 2014.

"The sum remains unpaid which represents a material benefit to Mirza.

"It is apparent that the VAT returns submitted were false as, on average, 46.4% of the sales data was not included.

"This is as a result of the reckless approach taken by Mirza to the management of his business records during this time."

Peter Gray KC, defending, told the sentencing that his client’s yearly earnings are £150,000.

He added: “Mr Mirza pled guilty to an offence he deeply regrets and expresses remorse.

“He accepts during this period he failed to express appropriate care that the information in the VAT returns were accurate and he acted recklessly.

“Mr Mirza had little understanding of the system - this was acknowledged by his bookkeeper - as his focus was on building his business.”

Mirza - who continues to live in a luxury home in Glasgow's Pollokshields - was granted bail pending his proceeds of crime hearing in early December and his sentence date later that month.