To­bacco fraud­ster faces jail

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - All Change For City Centre Shops -

A shop­keeper caught with a one­ton stash of raw to­bacco in the back of his van faces two years in jail un­less he re­pays more than £150,000 in crim­i­nal prof­its.

Mah­mud Mari­wan was con­victed of fraud­u­lently evad­ing £178,000 in ex­cise duty af­ter the haul was dis­cov­ered in a raid by Rev­enue and Cus­toms of­fi­cers.

It was suspected the 44-yearold – who was run­ning the Day Day In­ter­na­tional Food Store in Sturry Road while the owner was out of the coun­try – was pre­par­ing to process the to­bacco leaf into hand-rolling to­bacco.

He pleaded guilty to tax eva­sion at Maid­stone Crown Court in April and was sen­tenced to two years in prison, but the term was sus­pended for two years.

How­ever, fol­low­ing a con­fis­ca­tion hear­ing on Au­gust 18, which ruled he had made a crim­i­nal ben­e­fit of £185,826, he was told to pay back £153,215 or the jail sen­tence would be ac­ti­vated.

If un­paid, Mari­wan, of Ash­ford Road, Than­ing­ton, would still owe the money upon his re­lease.

Deb­bie Porter, as­sis­tant director of HMRC’S Fraud In­ves­ti­ga­tion Ser­vice, said: “It is im­por­tant that we pre­vent crim­i­nals from prof­it­ing from their crimes and re­cover the money to fund public ser­vices.

“If Mari­wan doesn’t pay back what he owes, he will go to jail and still owe the money.

“We en­cour­age any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the smug­gling, stor­age or sale of il­le­gal to­bacco and cig­a­rettes to con­tact our fraud hot­line.”

The hot­line num­ber is 0800 788887.

The raw to­bacco found in Mah­mud Mari­wan’s van

Pic­ture: Hay­ley Pee­bles

Taiyah Pee­bles

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