Cops charge two men on $10m cig­gie tax fraud

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - DAVID HURLEY

TWO men have been charged af­ter al­legedly im­port­ing 1.1 mil­lion il­le­gal cig­a­rettes de­clared as “black tea” through Mel­bourne Air­port.

The mas­sive haul adds up to more than $10 mil­lion in evaded tobacco duty.

The men im­ported the cig­a­rettes in mul­ti­ple air cargo ship­ments from the United Arab Emi­rates.

It is al­leged the pair used reg­is­tered busi­ness names to fa­cil­i­tate the im­ports in an at­tempt to hide their ac­tiv­i­ties.

On Thurs­day, Aus­tralian Bor­der Force of­fi­cers stopped a rental truck at Tul­la­ma­rine full of Manch­ester cig­a­rettes, al­legedly from the most re­cent con­sign­ment.

The driver and pas­sen­ger of the truck, both Aus­tralian cit­i­zens, were ar­rested by of­fi­cers from the il­licit tobacco task­force and charged with im­port­ing and pos­sess­ing tobacco prod­ucts with the in­tent of de­fraud­ing rev­enue.

Colin Drys­dale, the ABF act­ing com­man­der of spe­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tions, said the ar­rests should serve as a warn­ing to crim­i­nal groups in­volved in the im­por­ta­tion of il­licit tobacco.

“The ABF is lead­ing the task­force to fo­cus on iden­ti­fy­ing, tar­get­ing, dis­rupt­ing and dis­man­tling crim­i­nal syn­di­cates who trade in il­licit tobacco,” Mr Drys­dale said. “

They ob­served the men at a freight fa­cil­ity at the air­port as they loaded the truck.

Once the truck pulled out of the fa­cil­ity and on to the road the of­fi­cers swooped.

The men could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

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