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Lifestyle of ‘zero income’ smuggler revealed

Press Release   •   Jan 22, 2016 18:35 GMT

A tobacco smuggler who lived a rich lifestyle despite appearing to have no legitimate source of income, has been ordered to repay £64,000 after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

Nicholas Todd, 61, was ordered to pay back the money he stole from taxpayers following an in-depth financial investigation - after he was jailed for tobacco smuggling offences earlier this year.

Zoe Ellerbeck, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said:

“For someone who travelled extensively and lived abroad, HMRC have shown that Todd had no legitimate source of income and the judge today accepted that this lifestyle was funded largely by tax evasion and crime. We are determined to recover stolen taxes for such crimes.

“Tobacco fraud costs honest taxpayers more than £2.1 billion a year, undercutting honest businesses, and drawing people into wider criminality. Anyone with information about illicit tobacco sales or smuggling should contact the Customs’ Hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Todd was caught smuggling tobacco on several occasions at Manchester airport and in an attempt to bring cash back to the UK Todd had it hidden in his suitcase. Following his conviction, HMRC focused on his lifestyle which included expensive purchases including a property and a speed boat in Spain and cash held in multiple foreign bank accounts totalling £340,000. HMRC were able to trace bank accounts in the UK, Spain and USA.

He was ordered to repay £64,000 within three months or face a further 12 months in jail if he does not pay back the stolen tax by the deadline issued by the court.

Notes for editors

1.Nicholas Peter Todd, DOB 17/08/54, of Tesora Park, Javea, Alicante (previously of Knutsford, Cheshire), was ordered to repay £64,000 (available assets) within three months or serve 12 months in jail. The judge ruled that Todd had benefited by £341,220 from tax evasion and crime and the repayment order is for the full amount. HMRC gave evidence to the court of his lifestyle including:

- between January 2009 and July 2014, £266,764 cash deposited to his bank accounts

- €2296 and £960 in cash hidden in his suitcase lining seized at Manchester airport

- €318, 952 transferred to his Spanish bank account

- $40,877 transferred to his USA bank account

- details of the purchase of his home in Alicante, Spain (currently valued at £285,000)

- €24,000 purchase of a Cobrey 260 SC cruiser motor boat in Spain.

2.Todd was involved in multiple smuggling attempts including:

- 10 January 2014: he abandoned a suitcase on the baggage carousel at Manchester airport which contained 16 kilos of tobacco and 2,200 cigarettes;

- 23 January 2014: he was stopped by Border Force at Manchester airport and his baggage was found to contain 10 kilos of tobacco and 1,400 cigarettes;

- 5 September 2014: he was intercepted by Border Force at Manchester airport and his baggage contained 2.5 kilos of tobacco and 1,800 cigarettes.

3.During the investigation, HMRC seized multiple mobile phones and diaries from Todd which detailed his extensive smuggling business further. He was jailed for eight months at Manchester Crown Court on 23 January 2015. He pleaded guilty in December 2014, at Stockport Magistrates Court, to two separate offences involving the fraudulent evasion of £50,713 UK excise duty and VAT under section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) 1979.

4.There is no appeal against default jail sentences issued in confiscation orders and the order for repayment remains in place after the default sentence is served by the fraudster.

5.Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice

6.HMRC's Flickr channel: www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk 

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.