Wednesday 24 January 2018

Suspected €145.5m cross border tobacco fraud operation uncovered by customs officers

Simultaneous searches took place in Louth and Dublin by officers from Revenue's Custom Service with support from the Garda

An Garda Siochana
An Garda Siochana

A suspected €145.55m (£110m) cross border tobacco fraud operation has been uncovered by customs officers.

Four men and a woman were arrested in Northern Ireland as nine addresses in Down, Tyrone and Armagh were raided by HM Revenue and Customs with support from the PSNI.

Simultaneous searches took place in Louth and Dublin by officers from Revenue's Custom Service with support from the Garda.

A tobacco processing plant, 12 tonnes of raw tobacco, two million cigarettes and £50,000 (€66,160) in cash were seized during the operation in Northern Ireland.

In the Republic, 334,000 cigarettes were seized.

Mike Parkinson, Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation at HMRC, said:

"The trade in illicit tobacco is unregulated and makes cheaper tobacco more readily available to the young and vulnerable.

"Tobacco fraud is a highly organised global crime which costs the £2bn (€2.65bn) a year in lost taxes. Co-operation with our partners across the UK, Ireland and overseas is essential if we are to tackle this problem effectively."

The five people were questioned by HMRC and have been released on bail.

HMRC outlined the details of today's cross-border operation:

Tyrone:

  • one residential property searched
  • three men aged 25, 31 and 35 arrested
  • a tobacco processing plant seized
  • one million cigarettes, worth an estimated £250,000 (€331,180) in lost revenue, seized

Armagh:

  • four properties searched - three residential and one business
  • 12 tonnes of unprocessed tobacco, worth an estimated £2 million (€2.65m) in lost revenue, seized
  • one million cigarettes, worth an estimated £250,000 (€331,180) in lost revenue, seized
  • £30,000 (€39,740) in cash seized

Down:

  • four residential properties searched
  • a man aged 52 and a woman aged 47 arrested
  • £20,000 (€26,490) in cash seized

Louth and Dublin:

  • three properties searched in Louth
  • two properties searched in Dublin South
  • 334,000 cigarettes, worth an estimated revenue loss of €100,200 seized

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