Confiscation Powers Not Just Profit
A haulier who assisted in the fraudulent evasion of customs duty has found that crime certainly does not pay when the confiscation of assets is concerned.
The haulier had agreed to help cigarette smugglers bring in a container that contained both cigarettes and tyres on the basis that he could keep the tyres (£10,000 worth). He was to receive no profit from the cigarettes and was not involved in any way in their onward distribution or sale. He arranged all the necessary paperwork and duly arranged the shipping. When the scheme was uncovered and the case came to court, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) applied, as is normal, for a ‘confiscation order’ against the haulier. The criminal court awarded them £10,000 – the value of the haulier’s benefit. HMRC appealed to the Court of Appeal and were successful in being awarded over £400,000 – the value of the duty evaded on the entire shipment. The decision was accompanied by a ruling that failure to pay would lead to the haulier being given a sentence of two years in prison. The fact that his personal profit from the scheme was much less was not relevant.
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