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Sergey Pankov and Ecaterina Dudorenco
Sergey Pankov and Ecaterina Dudorenco

Press release -

Cigarette smuggling couple flee before trial

A couple who went on the run after they were caught with illicit tobacco have been sentenced in their absence.

Sergey Pankov, 48, and Ecaterina Dudorenco, 38, of Whitstable, Kent, were accused of not paying £211,171 duty on 600,000 illicit cigarettes, after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The couple were associated with the seizure of illicit cigarettes found at seven different storage units they rented, in parcels addressed to them and at their home address. Analysis of their phones showed photographs of some of the same cigarette brands and serial number as those seized.

Pankov and Dudorenco were arrested at a storage unit in Crayford on 9 February 2017. They were due to attend Southwark Crown Court on 4 January 2018, but failed to show up and warrants were issued for their arrests.

Simon Kiefer, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

“Pankov and Dudorenco are guilty and must pay the price for their crime. We will seek to track them down to face justice.

“Tobacco smuggling undermines legitimate businesses who play by the rules and costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year, money that could be used to fund vital public services.

“We encourage anyone with information about the whereabouts of Pankov and Dudorenco, or regarding the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco to report it to HMRC online, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

On 17 July 2018, at Southwark Crown Court, Pankov and Dudorenco were sentenced in their absence to two and a half years each imprisonment.

On sentencing, His Honour Judge Hehir said:

“The defendants were convicted by a jury on absolutely overwhelming evidence. I am not sentencing them for absenting themselves. This was extremely sophisticated and highly planned offending and the defendants were equally involved in all aspects of offending.”

Cash totalling £19,544.23 and €535 seized from Pankov was forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Notes for Editors

1. Sergey Pankov, of Marine Parade, Whitstable, Kent (DOB 11/11/1969) was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 17 July 2018 at Southwark Crown Court.

2. Ecaterina Dudorenco, of Marine Parade, Whitstable, Kent (DOB 2/11/1979) was sentenced to two and a half years in prison on 17 July 2018 at Southwark Crown Court.

3. They were found guilty of the fraudulent evasion of excise duty contrary to Section 170 (2) of the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979 between 31 December 2014 and 6 June 2017.

4. The duty payable on the cigarettes was £211,171.

5. The £19,544.23 and €535 cash seized from Pankov has been forfeited to the Crown.

6. The storage units were located in Ilford and Dagenham, Chingford, Croydon, Bermondsey and Crayford, and Stratford.

7. Images of Pankov and Dudorenco are available.

8. Follow HMRC’s press office on Twitter @HMRCpressoffice.

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

Press enquiries only please contact:

Lucy Collins

Tel: 03000 525872 / 07900 394 601

Email: lucy.collins@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Out of hours

Tel: 07860 359 544 Website www.gov.uk/hmrc

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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.

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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.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
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