A truck driver from Slovakia who was promised £1,500 to smuggle tobacco into the UK has been sent to prison for 18 months.
An HMRC investigation discovered that Attila Kralovic, 32, tried to smuggle a tonne of Turner hand rolling tobacco packed into cardboard boxes (pictured) through the Port of Dover. He was stopped on 4 June by UK Border Force officers, who searched his truck and found the tobacco.
Kralovic was arrested, the tobacco was seized and the case was referred to HMRC for investigation. The duty evaded on the tobacco added up to £232,000.
Kralovic told HMRC investigators he agreed to smuggle the tobacco for a fee when he was approached at a service station in Belgium. The next day he was directed to a farm to pick up the illegal load and was promised £1,500 when he got to Dover.
HMRC has also seized €2,000 that Kralovic was carrying under the Proceeds of Crime Act and he will have to prove it belongs to him. Kralovic, who pleaded to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty contrary to Section 170 (2) of the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979, was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on 3 July.
Director of Border Force South East and Europe Paul Morgan said: “This was a significant seizure which has starved those responsible of the proceeds of their criminality. The black market cheats honest traders and it is effectively stealing from the public purse. People who are tempted by cheap cigarettes and tobacco should think again.”