Cook and Indi restaurateurs Sukdev Gill and Inderjit Singh, have been banned from being involved in the running of companies for a total of 17 years over more than £4 million in unpaid taxes.

According to the Insolvency Service (IS), Mr Gill, the 55-year-old brother of Charan Gill, the man who built the Harlequin Restaurant Group, signed a disqualification undertaking for eight years after he did not dispute that over six years, he caused companies he was a director of to conceal VAT resulting in a loss to the HMRC of £1.97 million.

His business partner, Inderjit Singh (47), has also been disqualified for nine years after he did not dispute that he traded through successor companies while also concealing VAT resulting in a loss of £4.37 million.

READ MORE: Curry chefs branch out with a world buffet extravaganza 

Sukdev 'Cook' Gill and Inderjit 'Indi' Singh, who turned Cook & Indi's World Buffet into Scotland's first multi-cuisine chain, were crowned Curry Kings of the Year at The Scottish Curry Awards 2015 for the second year in a row.

They were directors of five companies – Coin De Indes Buffet Limited, Experience India Limited, Salut E Hind, Seeye Diamonds and Hot Flame World Buffett – trading as licensed restaurants in or around the Glasgow area.

The five companies launched between 2010 and 2012 all ceased to exist by March 2018, with each one entering into a form of insolvency, either through compulsory liquidation or Creditors Voluntary Liquidation.

The IS says that after liquidation, HMRC made enquiries into the companies before establishing that all five had participated in some form of "tax misconduct", including under-declaring tax, failing to register for VAT and "concealing tax owed".

The IS said Inderjit Singh then proceeded to start up successor companies, all of which traded as Cook and Indi World Buffet to continue the activities of the insolvent five companies.

HeraldScotland:

But all those 14 companies succumbed to the same fate as their predecessors and entered into a form of insolvency, the IS said.

The taxman again looked at the companies’ activities following their liquidation and discovered that Inderjit Singh allowed the buffet restaurant businesses to conceal millions of unpaid tax from HMRC, the IS said.

"Similar to the actions of their predecessors, the new companies concealed VAT and under-declared tax contributions, while at the same time failed to notify HMRC that new businesses were continuing the work of previous companies," said the IS.

The two former directors’ disqualifications come into effect on September 20.

From then the pair will be prohibited from being involved, directly or indirectly, in the formation, promotion or management of a company without permission of the court.

READ MORE: World Buffet serves up a new restaurant on city site

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 their businesses gained an unfair advantage over their 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 then the penalties are severe."

Sukdev Gill began working in many of Harlequin's outlets, from Ashoka restaurants in Johnstone in Glasgow's Ashton Lane to Ashoka Shaks in Linwood, Coatbridge, Dundee and Livingston, before rising to take on a more general, area manager role.

He remained with the company for several years after his brother sold the group to Sanjay Majhu for £8 million in 2005, most recently assuming the position of franchise director.

In that role he was responsible for four Ashoka Shaks, as well as the Ashoka Johnstone, which he had bought independently in 2003 before Harlequin was sold.

But in 2010 he decided it was time for a change.

Mr Singh, a long-standing friend of 18 years, said he was trialling a new "multi-cuisine" concept at his father's restaurant in Uddingston, and within 24 hours they decided to go into business together.

The first Cook and Indi's World Buffet restaurant was opened in June, 2011, and by November, 2013, they had talked of being on track to open its sixth outlet and turn over £4 million a year.

In August it was announced there would be a seventh venue after signing a 15-year lease at Clyde Shopping Centre in Clydebank.

The pair have been approached for comment.

The HMRC would not comment.