A lorry driver who was caught smuggling millions of cigarettes into the UK has been jailed for two years and 10 months after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Border Force officers stopped a lorry at the Port of Dover on 17 September 2018. A search of the trailer revealed 6.4 million Richmond Blue and NZ Slim cigarettes, worth an estimated £1.8 million in lost duty, hidden behind pallets of black pudding.
The driver Daniel Ossowski, 38, from Tczew, Poland, was arrested, the cigarettes were seized and the matter referred to HMRC to investigate.
Tom Hunnisett, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Ossowski was wrong to think he could get away with smuggling tobacco into the UK. The illegal tobacco trade has a harmful effect on legitimate businesses and deprives us of money needed to fund our vital public services. The duty evaded on this illicit tobacco was enough to pay the starting salaries of 79 nurses in Kent for a year.
”HMRC works closely with Border Force to tackle and disrupt this illicit trade and I urge anyone who has information about the smuggling, selling or storing of illicit tobacco to report it online to HMRC, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Paul Morgan, Director of Border Force South East and Europe said: “This is a significant seizure, had the smuggling attempt not been stopped it could have cost the Treasury approximately £1.8m in unpaid duty. By stopping the shipment Border Force has starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality.
“People tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco should think again.”
Ossowski pleaded guilty to fraudulently evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court and he was sentenced to two years and 10 months in jail on 16 October 2018.
Posted on: October 22nd 2018