Tobacco fraudster faces jail
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