'It's not an unusual practice': Labour's Dogus responds to 'tax evasion' claims
A Labour parliamentary candidate says it is "not an unusual practice" to move bundles of cash between countries after he was snared for trying to send £11,500 to Turkey in a relative's suitcase.
Ibrahim Dogus was forced to surrender the money after the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said he was trying to smuggle it out of the country for the purpose of "unlawful conduct", including "tax evasion".
Mr Dogus, who is Jeremy Corbyn's candidate to replace Tom Watson in West Bromwich East, faced a probe in 2011 after he gave a relative the cash from his kebab restaurant empire and asked her to take it on a flight from London to Istanbul.
The money, which was shoved into socks, satin purses and envelopes, was later seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act after officials ruled it had been "sourced from tax evasion".
Mr Dogus, 39, who is the mayor of Lambeth, attempted to explain his behaviour in an interview with the BBC.
He said he had given the cash to his uncle's wife to take abroad, insisting that all tax was "paid properly through the annual accounts and corporation tax".
Asked if it was unusual to send such a large amount of cash abroad in the suitcase of a relative on an aeroplane, he said: "The cost of sending and receiving is higher than sending the money in cash through somebody who is just conveniently able to... is going over, for holiday, and you just happen to find out they are leaving for holiday to Turkey... the day after you want to transfer those monies.
"So it is not an unusual practice among communities, among small businesses."
Mr Dogus insists he did nothing wrong, and has blamed "neglect" on the part of a family lawyer for the seizure, which fell under civil law.
He also claimed the incident was being used in an attempt to "discredit" him as a candidate.
"Those who are politically in opposition to me and our party are trying to use such false stories to discredit candidates and attack our campaigns," he said.
Mr Dogus, who founded the British Kebab Awards, has also come under fire over claims that he paid staff "poverty wages" in his restaurants.
Labour is defending a majority of 7,713 in West Bromwich East.
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