Teppanyaki owners charged with money laundering, hiding $8M in sales

INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry and officials from the Indiana Department of Revenue announced criminal charges Thursday in an investigation into Indianapolis buffet restaurants accused of money laundering.

Police raided two Teppanyaki Grill & Buffet locations in Marion County in August 2016 and seized more than $600,000 in alleged money laundering proceeds.

Prosecutors also filed a civil complaint again Teppanyaki Grill, Teppanyaki West, Union Broker Limited, Hokkaido Japanese Buffet in Terre Haute and dozens of the restaurants’ managers and affiliates.

At the time, prosecutors left open the possibility of criminal charges being filed in the case.

On Thursday, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office announced it had filed charges of corrupt business influence, theft and failure to remit taxes against seven people accused of underreporting more than $8 million in sales from seven Teppanyaki and similarly branded restaurants.

The defendants charged in the case are as follows:

  • Shua Li, owner of Teppanyaki Grill Supreme Buffet (Indianapolis)
  • Chunhua Wang, owner of Teppanyaki Grill Super Buffet (Lafayette)
  • Guo Wu Wu, owner of Teppanyaki Supreme Buffet 285 (Fort Wayne)
  • Jin Qui Zhao, owner of Teppanyaki Buffet, Inc. (Marion)
  • Ji Rong Lin, owner of Hokkaido Japanese Buffet (Terre Haute)
  • Guang Feng Li, owner of China King Feng, LLLC (Plainfield) and Teppanyaki Grill Supreme Buffet (Indianapolis)
  • Sheng Yi Li, owner of Teppanyaki West (Indianapolis)

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, investigators allege the defendants used cash sales to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in sales revenue – which they then failed to pay sales taxes on.

The investigation began with search warrants served at a single Teppanyaki location in Indianapolis in October 2014. Ultimately it expanded to restaurants in Terre Haute, Plainfield, Lafayette and Marion, as well as a second Indianapolis location.

Although the charges only cover alleged activities during the 2014-2016 period, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said they have “no reason to believe that it hasn’t been going on at these restaurants for years and years.”