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Manchester hair salon owners jailed for smuggling and tax fraud

Press Release   •   Jan 27, 2016 14:43 GMT

Two men who owned hairdressing salons in Manchester have been jailed for smuggling over 2.5 tons of tobacco into the UK in a £450,000 tax fraud.

Mohammed Kattany, 37, who was the director of Unique Hairdressers in Bramhall, hid smuggled fruit-flavoured tobacco in freight imports from Dubai, postal parcels, and his own luggage. He was sentenced alongside his accomplice, Ahmed Al-Salaima, 33, who owned Snipz hairdressers in Withington.

The pair were arrested in July 2013, after they were linked by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators to several seizures of illegal tobacco at the Port of Felixstowe, Heathrow airport and Manchester airport by UK Border Force (BF). The smuggling attempts were all traced back to companies or addresses associated with the men.

Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“These determined smugglers used flimsy excuses to blame others for the hidden tobacco but all the evidence led directly to them. Nearly three tons of illegal tobacco were intercepted before making it to the streets of Manchester thanks to the joint work of HMRC and BF. This was a serious attempt to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from the public purse and undermine local businesses.

“We urge anyone with information about the trade in smuggled goods to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000. If you’re ever offered cheap or dodgy-looking cigarettes or tobacco, call us – don’t let the crooks get away with this type of fraud.”

Kattany and Al-Salaima were each jailed for two years at Manchester Crown Court for tax evasion on the tobacco products on Friday 22 January.

Notes for Editors

1.Mohammed Kattany (DOB 02/11/78) of Agnew Place, Salford, Manchester, was sentenced on Friday (22 January 2016) to two years in prison after previously pleading guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 on 3 November 2015 at Manchester Crown Court. Kattany was the director of Unique Hairdressers, Bramhall Lane South, Bramhall, Stockport and Sweet and Salt, a shop on Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, Manchester (M14). He used both business addresses in the smuggling attempts. Kattany made multiple trips abroad, often to Dubai to arrange the smuggling consignments and was caught with undeclared tobacco products in his own luggage at Customs in the UK.

2.Ahmed Al-Salaima (DOB 10/05/82) of Wilmslow Road, Withington Manchester (M20), was sentenced on Friday (22 January 2016) to two years in prison after previously pleading guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 on 3 November 2015 at Manchester Crown Court. Al-Salaima was the director of Snipz Hairdressers, Wilmslow Road, Withington (M20) which was used as a delivery address for the illegal tobacco freight consignments – Kattany claimed the address was used as it had a car park ideal for delivering and distributing the smuggled loads into smaller vans. Snipz was also used as the address for parcel deliveries containing illegal tobacco and cigarettes which were intercepted by UK Border Force officers.

3.Both men were also linked to a third company Rawad Trading set up by Kattany which was named as the importer on freight consignments for the smuggling attempts. Rawad Trading was based at the same address as Snipz Hairdressers on Wilmslow Road (M20).

4.Customs paperwork on the consignments and parcels falsely described the smuggled tobacco as cleaning fragrances, clothing, tablecloths, kitchen products and bathroom cleaners. A list of seizures associated with this case is available from the HMRC Press Office below. The total UK duty and VAT evasion on all of the seized tobacco products is £450,000.

5.Follow HMRC 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.