Auckland man arrested for smuggling 483,600 cigarettes

A 40-year-old Auckland businessman has been arrested and charged with defrauding Customs revenue by smuggling undeclared cigarettes into the country.

He appeared in the Auckland District Court yesterday afternoon (Thursday 1 August), further charges are likely.

In July 2019, the man imported a shipping container of foodstuffs from China under his business trading name. An inspection by Biosecurity New Zealand revealed the container held cartons of Chinese branded cigarettes hidden inside the boxes of food.

A total of 2418 cartons of cigarettes – 483,600 individual cigarettes – were located. The total revenue evaded for this quantity of cigarettes is $537,542.38.

This is Customs’ second arrest for organised large-scale cigarette smuggling in recent weeks.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says these cases are a warning to offenders out there who think Customs does not take revenue evasion seriously.

“It’s not illegal to import cigarettes but it must be declared and the correct duty and GST paid. Revenue fraud or tax evasion is a serious crime and Customs will not hesitate to prosecute.”

“Customs works closely with border agencies and industry partners to maintain a secure border, and this is an excellent example of the whole of government approach to managing border risk.”

If you have suspicions about someone involved in smuggling cigarettes illegally, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786) in confidence, or Crime stoppers anonymously.

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