TOKYO - The man who brought Singapore's Tiramisu Hero dessert brand to Japan, where it is popular for its signature packaging of tiramisu sealed in a jar with a cat logo, has been charged with tax evasion, local media reported on Tuesday (Oct 20).
Shigeo Hosoya, 56, former director of the Japanese franchisee company Tiramisu Hero Co, had allegedly under-declared 232 million yen (S$2.98 million) in personal income from 2016 to 2018 by keeping some sales online and at department stores off the books.
This was when the brand was run as a sole proprietorship. Investigative sources told Japanese media that Hosoya had evaded taxes of about 88 million yen by under-reporting income.
Reports said that 150 million yen in cash was found in a safe deposit box.
The Tiramisu Hero Co was registered as a corporation in April 2018, and is based in Matsudo City in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, where it also operates the cafe, Tiramisu Star.
The Japanese company said in a statement on Tuesday: "Tiramisu Hero Co., Ltd. and Tiramisu Star Cafe operated by Tiramisu Hero Co., Ltd. have neither been subject to national tax investigation nor have been accused."
It added: "We apologise for the concern and inconvenience caused to many people."
Japanese media said on Tuesday that the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau has filed a complaint against Hosoya, who quit the firm in June this year, with the Chiba District Prosecutor's Office on suspicion of violating the Income Tax Act.
Hosoya, who entered a franchisee agreement to bring the Singapore brand to Japan in August 2013, told the Jiji News Agency: "I deeply regret my actions. I have already filed an amendment tax return and repaid the full amount."
The franchised brand's products are now sold under the name "Tiramisu Star" in Japan following a patent dispute, as another unrelated company had previously registered the name "Tiramisu Hero" as a trademark in Japan.