Stubbed out: Jail for two Manchester men guilty of £94,000 smuggled tabacco tax fraud

Two men who were caught moving 245 kilos of smuggled tobacco between two vans have been jailed afterseeing their tax evasion stubbed out by customs officers.

Graham Kay, 38, from Bolton and Soran Salih, 24, from Bury pleaded guilty on 24 June 2013 to attempting to evade over £94,000 in excise duty and VAT.

Kay was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his part in the fraud while Salih will spend seven months behind bars.

The men had parked their vans at the side of the road, when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers intervened.

The tobacco was seized and the offenders were arrested for tax evasion.  Further investigation found more illegal tobacco and cash at their homes and business premises, which were seized.

Mike O’Grady, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said: “We are determined to tackle the ongoing problem of illicit tobacco sales across Greater Manchester.”

“The evasion of excise duty is a criminal offence. If you are caught you will not only have your goods seized but you may also face prosecution. ”

 O’Grady warned: “My message is clear to anyone engaged in this illegal activity – HMRC will pursue those who ignore the rules on the sale, storage and supply of illicit tobacco.”

The seized cigarettes were recycled as fuel for the National Grid, the cash was forfeited to the Crown. Salih’s van was also confiscated by officers.

Anyone with information about the illegal trade in smuggled cigarettes and tobacco should contact the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.

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