To­bacco crop de­stroyed by tax of­fice

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

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.

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