A lorry driver caught smuggling 600,000 illicit cigarettes into Dover, among pallets of floor panels, has been jailed for 16 months after he was investigated by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Henryk Wawrenczuk, 62, was stopped by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks in January 2017. A search of the lorry’s trailer unit revealed the boxes of cigarettes packaged in a similar way to the hardboard and hidden within the load. Wawrenczuk was arrested and the illegal importation, worth £152,205 in evaded tobacco duty, was referred to HMRC for investigation.
Alan Tully, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“Wawrenczuk thought he’d get away with smuggling the cigarettes by using import documents for a load of hardboard flooring. He’s now paying the price for his greed.
“HMRC continues to work with Border Force to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year, steals from communities and harms the livelihood of legitimate retailers. We have seized more than 3.5 billion illicit cigarettes in the last two years alone, and encourage anyone with information regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco to contact our Fraud Hotline.”
Wawrenczuk pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday 7 April 2017 and was jailed for 16 months.
Upon sentencing Wawrenczuk, Mr Recorder McDonagh, said:
“This was an organised and professional importation. The cigarettes were being professionally concealed to hide them from border authorities. You are 62 years old, you should have known better.”
Notes for Editors
1. Henryk WAWRENCZUK,DOB 26/03/1955, of Ruda Slaska, Poland, was arrested on 15 January 2017 at Dover Eastern Docks. He pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. He had entered a not guilty plea in February 2017.
2. The cigarettes seized were Jin Ling King Size Filters.
3. Photographs are available from HMRC’s Flickr channelwww.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
4. Anyone with information about people suspected of smuggling, selling or storing illegal tobacco should contact our hotline on 0800 788 887 or report it online at: https://www.gov.uk/report-tobacco-or-alcohol-tax-evasion
5. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.
HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.