A truck driver who hid more than 750,000 illicit cigarettes inside rolls of paper that were stuffed with asbestos and concrete has been sent to prison for 21 months.
Valerij Budera was caught with the load at Dover Eastern Docks on 16 October. The consignment, which was described as industrial-sized paper rolls on his paperwork, also contained electrical goods and textiles.
HMRC estimated that he had evaded paying £196,453 in excise duty on the cigarettes.
HMRC described the smuggling attempt as an “incredibly reckless and dangerous act that could have had serious consequences for anyone handling the load or buying the cigarettes”, due to the presence of the asbestos.
The Hungarian driver pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on 30 November. Money in various currencies, seized when Budera was arrested, was kept by the authorities under a deprivation order.
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