Press release -
Final gang member jailed in £2.8million fraud
The fifth and final member of a criminal gang has been flown back from Lithuania and jailed for his role in smuggling 8.5 million illegal cigarettes into the UK.
Robertas Borovskis, 41, was extradited to face justice after he and four other men were caught with millions of illegal cigarettes at a Lincolnshire farm in June 2017.
All five men flew to Lithuania to avoid investigation and all five have now been returned by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and jailed for more than eight years.
Arrest warrants were issued against all five men and HMRC worked with Lithuanian authorities to track down the gang who evaded duty totalling £2.8 million.
Richard Paris, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:
“We will relentlessly pursue those who believe they can flee justice by going abroad. In the last five years, we’ve returned more than 60 fugitives, including some of the UK’s most wanted tax cheats.
“Tax crime robs our vital public services of much-needed funds and can fuel a raft of other illegal activity that harms communities, including drugs, guns and human trafficking.
“We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco, or any other tax crime to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Borovskis was charged in March 2019, with conspiracy to evade excise duty and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He was returned to the UK on 7 July 2021 after being arrested by Lithuanian authorities.
On 5 August 2021, Borovskis pleaded guilty to excise duty evasion. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison today (8 October 2021) at Nottingham Crown Court.
Four other men, Svajunas Navagruckas, 51, Andrej Jerofejev, 56, Vilmantas Simaitis, 49, and Martynas Nazaras, 40, were previously jailed for a total of seven years for their part in the plot after being returned to the UK by HMRC.
Jerofejev and Nazaras were arrested as they moved the tobacco haul concealed in window frames and laundry bags. Borovskis, Navagruckus and Simaitis were arrested at the same time at a nearby petrol station. All the men left the UK before appearing in court for fraudulently evading excise duty.
HMRC works with law enforcement agencies across the world to bring fugitives back to face justice.
Notes to Editors
- Robertas Borovskis. DOB: 10/01/1980, of Mariu g, Kaunas, Lithuania. Admitted to the Fraudulent Evasion of Excise Duty. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on 8 October 2021.
- Svajunas Navagruckas, DOB 11/11/1969, of Margio g, Alytus, Lithuania. Admitted to the Fraudulent Evasion of Excise Duty. He was sentenced to 28 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on 5 February 2021.
- Andrej Jerofejev, DOB 13/10/1964, of Giluzio St, Pilaite, Vilnius, Lithuania. Admitted to the Fraudulent Evasion of Excise Duty. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on 22 October 2019.
- Vilmantas Simaitis, DOB 22/11/1971, of Dariaus ir Gireno, 1-10, Alytus, Lithuania. Admitted Fraudulent Evasion of Excise Duty. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on 18 February 2020.
- Martynas Nazaras, DOB 19/08/1981, of Vyduno g, Vilnius, Lithuania. Admitted Fraudulent Evasion of Excise Duty. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Nottingham Crown Court on 18 February 2020.
- Further details about the fraud and previous sentencings can be found here and here
- 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.