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Rochdale cigarette fraudster to repay £115k

Press Release   •   Feb 10, 2017 14:42 GMT

Op Magic cash seized

A Rochdale man, who tried to blame a ‘man in the pub’ for his illegal cigarette hoard, has been ordered to repay £115,000 or face another 10 months in jail.

Unemployed, Andrew Longbottom, 54, of Wardle, Rochdale, was caught in 2013 by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers with more than 127,200 illegal cigarettes and 68 kilos of tobacco in a rented storage unit. More cigarettes and over £18,700 in cash were found hidden behind a panel in his van.

He was jailed for 12 months for £38,000 tax evasion in November 2015. Further HMRC investigations found Longbottom had profited by another £77,000 from his crimes. Longbottom now has to repay all the stolen tax and criminal profits within 28 days or his jail term is increased.

Zoe Ellerbeck, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Longbottom claimed he was storing and transporting the cigarettes for a man in his local pub, but bizarrely didn’t know his name. In reality, there was no other man- he lived off criminal cash, evading taxes and dealing in the cigarettes and tobacco for himself.

“This case shows that HMRC doesn't stop at putting criminals behind bars. We will pursue and recover their ill-gotten gains, returning stolen taxpayers' money to the public purse and making sure tax crime doesn't pay.”

The court decided yesterday that Longbottom had benefited from his crimes by £115,000 and ordered him to repay £115,000 based on evidence of his assets provided by HMRC investigators including: the cash discovered hidden in his house and money from a property sale.

Notes for Editors

1.  Andrew Longbottom, DOB 06/09/62, of Lawflat, Wardle, Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was jailed on 26 November 2015 for 12 months after previously pleading guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 on 1 October 2013 at Manchester Crown Court. The total UK duty and VAT evasion on all of the seized tobacco products in the case was £38,855.

2.  The £18,740 cash found in the van was also forfeited back to public funds in a separate magistrates court hearing on 6 November 2015 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

3.  For details of the fraud case see HMRC news release NW24/15:

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. If the assets held by the convicted criminal at the time of the order are less than the benefit derived from the fraud, then any future assets can be confiscated up to the value of the benefit of the fraud.

5.  Anyone with information regarding fraud is encouraged to contact the 24-hour Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or report it online via:

6.  Follow HMRC’s Press Office on Twitter @hmrcpressoffice

7.  HMRC’s Flickr channel

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.