A WARRINGTON car wash owner who evaded £100,000 duty on more than 400,000 cigarettes has received a suspended prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court.
Pshtewan Sharef Ibrahim, 42, of Poplars Avenue, Warrington kept the illicit cigarettes at self-storage units in the town which were sniffed out by specially trained detector dogs during a visit to the premises by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers, on 30 November 2016.
When questioned by officers, Ibrahim said he was paid £200 to rent the two storage units on behalf of someone else and that he used them to store his car wash equipment.
He pleaded guilty on April 25 at Liverpool Crown Court to two counts of fraudulently evading excise duty under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. He was sentenced to ten months in prison, suspended for two years, at the same court earlier today (May 9). He was ordered to complete 20 hours unpaid work and abide by a 7am and 7pm curfew for three months.
Ibrahim stored the 406,080 non UK-duty paid cigarettes (a mixture of Marlboro, Mayfair, Royal and NZ Gold Super Slim) at Apex Self-Storage, Owen Street, Warrington and at Smart Storage, Lythgoes Lane, Warrington,
Paul Maybury, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Ibrahim thought his criminal scheme would go unnoticed, but he was wrong.
“Selling illicit tobacco threatens the livelihoods of hard working legitimate businesses by stealing their trade. I encourage anyone with information on this type of fraud to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Anyone with information about people or businesses involved in smuggling, sale or storage of illicit tobacco can report it online at https://www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business or contact the HMRC Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.