Cops charge two men on $10m ciggie tax fraud
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.