Smuggler who stashed tonne of illegal tobacco in Poplar storage depot spared jail

PUBLISHED: 13:06 04 June 2018 | UPDATED: 13:52 04 June 2018

Kwai Choi Man. Picture: HMRC

Kwai Choi Man. Picture: HMRC


A smuggler who ran an illegal tobacco factory from a portable cabin in Poplar has been spared jail.

Box containing illegal tobacco pouches hidden in cleaning wipes packaging. Picture: HMRCBox containing illegal tobacco pouches hidden in cleaning wipes packaging. Picture: HMRC

Kwai Choi Man, 64, stashed away 1.1 tonnes of tobacco worth £166,000 in unpaid duty in containers rented under the name George.

He paid in cash and left no contact details with the depot, but was eventually tracked down by tax inspectors who caught him loading his Mercedes with the illicit goods.

Officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) found fake branded tobacco pouches and processing and manufacturing plane hidden behind the cabin.

Man, of Queen Margaret’s Grove, Islington, pleaded guilty to evading excise duty on the first day of his trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

Tobacco pouch hidden in packaging for cleaning wipes. Picture: HMRCTobacco pouch hidden in packaging for cleaning wipes. Picture: HMRC

He received a 15 month sentence, suspended for two years, at the same court on Thursday, May 31.

The court also imposed a nine month curfew, between 7pm and 7am.

“Man thought he was above the law by attempting to flood the market with his illicit, smuggled tobacco, denying a living for decent, hard-working retailers,” said Brett Wilkinson, assistant director of the taxman’s fraud investigation service.

“HMRC continues to work with other enforcement agencies to reduce the availability of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. Anyone with information about tobacco smuggling should call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

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