Tobacco crop destroyed by tax office
An illegal tobacco crop with an estimated value of $9 million has been seized and destroyed by the Australian Taxation Office in Maidment Rd, Koonoomoo.
‘‘We found this crop based on information provided to us by Victoria Police,’’ ATO deputy commissioner Michael Cranston said.
The ATO, with the assistance of Victoria Police, ploughed the 5.05 ha crop, rendering it unsaleable.
The warrant action was the fourth in as many months, with similar searches uncovering millions of dollars’ worth of illegal tobacco in Victoria and NSW.
Mr Cranston said the wider community played an important role in helping to stamp out the illegal trade of tobacco.
‘‘If you have suspicion that illegal activity is taking place in your community, you should contact the authorities,’’ he said.
It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade, with no licensed tobacco producers growing the crop since 2006.
Mr Cranston said the illegal tobacco trade took potential tax dollars away from the government and put it into the hands of organised criminals.
‘‘If landowners are approached by these groups, they can be inadvertently complicit in the illicit activity,’’ he said.
‘‘Our message is that if you are involved in this kind of behaviour, you will be caught — and this seizure further demonstrates (that).’’
Since July 1, 2016, the ATO has made nine seizures and destroyed 56 tonnes of tobacco valued at $47.8 million.
ATO investigations continue.
Destined to be destroyed: An illegal tobacco crop with an estimated value of $9 million was seized and destroyed by the Australian Taxation Office in Maidment Rd, Koonoomoo.