A lorry driver caught smuggling eight million cigarettes into the UK, as he tried to evade more than £2 million in excise duty by claiming his load consisted of tissues and paper towels, has been jailed for two and half years after an HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation.
Artur Staniszczak, 40, was arrested by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks on 17 July 2017, after a search of the lorry he was driving revealed 7.9 million Richmond Blue branded cigarettes – instead of the 33 pallets of paper goods shown on the import documents.
The case was referred to HMRC for criminal investigation and the import paperwork was confirmed as fake.
Tim Clarke, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“This lorry contained nothing but boxes of smuggled cigarettes. Staniszczak hoped that false import documents would prevent the illegal load being discovered, but he’s now paying the price with a prison sentence.
“HMRC continues to work with Border Force and other agencies to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year and rips-off legitimate businesses. We encourage anyone with information regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal cigarettes and tobacco to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Staniszczak pleaded guilty to evading excise duty at Maidstone Crown Court on 15 August 2017. He was immediately jailed for two and a half years, of which 15 months must be served in custody.
Upon sentencing, His Honour Judge Carey, said:
“You acted out of character by doing something criminal. Your role, in my judgement, was clearly a significant role.”
Notes for Editors
1. Artur Piotr Staniszczak,DOB 19/05/1977, a lorry driver from Skwierzyna, Poland. He pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty, contrary to Section 170(2) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, in relation to 7.9 million Richmond Blue branded cigarettes.
2. Photographs are available from HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrcgovuk
3. Anyone with information about people suspected of smuggling, selling or storing illegal tobacco should contact our hotline on 0800 788 887 or report it online at: https://www.gov.uk/report-tobacco-or-alcohol-tax-evasion
4. Follow HMRC Press Office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice
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.