A lorry driver caught smuggling 2.6 million cigarettes into the UK hidden among a consignment of dry pasta has been jailed for three years, after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation.
Andrzej Imanski, 39, was driving a lorry stopped by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks in April 2016. Import papers suggested the cargo was boxes of dry pasta, packed within 32 pallets.
Officers discovered around 2.6 million cigarettes boxed and hidden alongside boxes of pasta in 30 of the pallets. The boxes containing the cigarettes were identical to those containing bags of dry pasta.
The estimated excise duty evaded was £645,398. The case was referred to HMRC for investigation.
Alan Tully, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
"Imanski assumed the pasta boxes would hide his illegal cargo of smuggled cigarettes. But they were discovered and he’s now in prison.This is the second such jail term this week for cigarette smuggling in Kent and shows that we continue to work with other enforcement agencies to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2 billion a year in stolen revenue.
“Don’t let criminals profit by undermining legitimate retailers. Anyone with information about the smuggling or illegal sale of tobacco can report it by calling our 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000."
Imanski was found guilty on 27 October 2016 after a three-day trial at Maidstone Crown Court. He was jailed for three years.
Notes for editors
- Andrzej IMANSKI, DOB 22/10/1977, a lorry driver of Motylewo, Bogdaniec, 66-450, Poland, was arrested on 28 April 2016 at Dover Eastern Docks.
- He was found guilty of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to section 170(2)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
- The seized cigarettes were all a non-UK brand called Pect.
- The pasta company was not subject to HMRC investigation.
- Since 2000, HMRC, working with other enforcement agencies, has more than halved the size of the illicit market in cigarettes. In the last two years alone, more than 3.5 billion illicit cigarettes and over 599 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco have been seized resulting in 848 prosecutions
- Anyone with information regarding tobacco fraud is encouraged to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or via the website https://www.gov.uk/report-tobacco-or-alcohol-tax-evasion
- A similar story was publicised by HMRC on 25 October 2016: http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/hm-revenue-customs-hmrc/pressreleases/cigarette-smuggling-attempt-crumbles-at-border-1622391
- Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
- Photos are available from HMRC's Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
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.