Cigarette pirates use valid tax details
CIGARETTE smugglers are 'borrowing' the tax registration details of legitimate traders to thwart customs officers' efforts to spot illicit consignments.
Customs officers say it is now becoming more difficult to pinpoint suspect shipments as a result.
This is revealed in the annual report of the C&AG, which comments on the limited success in using X-ray scanners to detect contraband cigarettes.
The spending watchdog calls on the Revenue to carry out a comparison of the number of scans and the detection rate per scan with those achieved elsewhere to assess the performance of the scanners and whether they could be deployed more efficiently.
It points out that while the number of cigarette seizures has fallen by about 30pc since 2007, the actual number of cigarettes confiscated has increased from 74.5 million in 2007 to 218.5 million last year.
One Co Louth seizure last year accounted for more than 120 million cigarettes but it was unlikely those were destined for the Irish market, the report says.
The watchdog urges the Revenue to measure whether its activities are succeeding in reducing the problem of evasion of tobacco duty and use the results to set specific targets to reduce the illicit market.
"Revenue should continue to explore other methodologies for estimating evasion," the report added. It called for targets for all key activities to be published to assess the Revenue's progress.