Raid uncovers £120k of illegal cigarettes
AN ALLEGED tax fraudster has appeared in court after more than 600,000 illicit cigarettes were seized from a container in Market Deeping.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers made the discovery after a visit to a storage premises in the town on Monday.
Packets apparently of the Chinese Jin Ling brand containing 607,000 cigarettes were seized during the operation, with the value of duty evaded on the goods claimed to be £120,000.
HMRC has said it is believed that Peterborough would have been targeted for the sale of the cigarettes.
Aleksander Sergevich Laryn, a 31year-old Russian whose last known address was in Spalding, was arrested in connection with the discovery and appeared at Grantham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
He was charged on suspicion of the fraudulent evasion of duty.
He has been remanded in custody pending his next hearing at the court, which will be on December 21.
Bob Gaiger, East of England spokesman for HMRC, said the operation showed a clear commitment from Customs that any suspected smuggling would not be tolerated.
He said: “I am unable to give further details at this time as our investigations are continuing.
“However, our actions send out a clear message to those tempted to become involved in activities of this nature – we take tobacco fraud extremely seriously and will pursue anyone believed to be involved in this type of crime.”
Currently, the cigarettes are undergoing testing with HMRC to see whether they are genuine cigarettes that have been potentially smuggled into the country, or whether they are counterfeit cigarettes that could contain all manner of chemicals.
A HMRC spokeswoman said that Customs had run across counterfeit Jin Ling cigarettes before and that tests had found such cigarettes had contained traces of materials including rat poison and rat excrement.
In fact, the Jin Ling brand is not allowed to be sold in the UK as the firm does not have the correct UK licences, HMRC said.
The spokeswoman said: “We are trying to find out at the moment whether these cigarettes are the genuine brand or whether they are fake.
“Jin Ling cigarettes are sold abroad and obviously in China, but they cannot be sold legally here in the UK.
“We are not sure for whom these cigarettes were intended, but we believe they would have been passed on to people in the Peterborough area.”
Anyone who has noticed suspicious activity can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
To report a suspected tax evasion, call the HMRC Tax Evasion Hotline
SEIZED: A sample of the cigarettes found in a storage container by Customs’ officers