A 28 year old Taiwanese national has been charged by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in Perth as part of an investigation into a nationwide cigarette smuggling operation sparked by a public tip-off to Border Watch.
ABF officers arrested the man soon after he arrived at a courier depot in Welshpool yesterday afternoon to pick up three large cardboard boxes.
It will be alleged the boxes contained 145 cartons of mostly Chinese made cigarettes. It’ll be further alleged another 32 cartons of cigarettes were found in the spare wheel recess in the boot of the man’s car.
In total that amounts to 35,400 cigarettes, which if imported legally would attract excise duty of approximately $28,950.
The man was charged under s.233BABAD (2B) of the Customs Act 1901 having conveyed or have in his possession, goods that were tobacco products, reckless as to whether the goods were imported with the intent to defraud the revenue.
He is due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court today (23 July 2019).
The maximum penalty for this offence is five years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding the $28,950, or both.
The man is currently in Australia on a student dependent visa.
Superintendent of ABF Investigations WA Clint Sims said it would be alleged the man had been purchasing illegally imported cigarettes from a supplier in another state and selling them on the black market in Western Australia.
“Investigations continue into what we believe is a nationwide cigarette smuggling operation,” Superintendent Sims said.
“The ABF is targeting all levels of tobacco smuggling – whether it be by organised crime syndicates, local profiteers or individuals stockpiling personal use supplies.”
The illicit tobacco market in Australia is worth about $600 million a year in evaded revenue.
The ABF is leading the multi-agency Illicit Tobacco Taskforce that combines the operational, investigative and intelligence capabilities of the ABF, Australian Taxation Office, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Anyone with information on the importation of illicit tobacco is encouraged to contact Border Watch at www.Australia.gov.au/borderwatch. Information can be provided anonymously.