Wembley man who smuggled more than one million cigarettes sentenced
- Credit: Archant
A cigarette smuggler caught with more than one million illicit cigarettes, worth £310,000 in lost unpaid tax, has narrowly avoided jail.
Piotr Zwolinski, 45, of Grasmere Road, Wembley, pleaded guilty to smuggling cigarettes with two others and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Luton Crown Court on January 19.
He was also given a curfew for six months from 9pm to 5am and ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work.
Zana Osman, 37, was jailed for three years and Halkwat Walli, 34, handed a nine month suspended sentence when they appeared on the same day at the same court.
Steve Bowling, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “These criminals were aiming to undercut legitimate retailers with this large quantity of smuggled cigarettes and tobacco.
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“HMRC continues to target the supply of illicit tobacco, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year – money that could be used to fund vital public services.”
The trio were caught in Bedford with 1.15 million illicit cigarettes in their car by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators.
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Days after being bailed in March last year, Osman was found with £18,665 in laundered cash hidden under the driver’s seat of his BMW car.
He denied smuggling cigarettes and money laundering, but was found guilty by a jury on November 27.
Walli, an Iraqi, had been held in custody since his arrest in March while the Home Office held an illegal status investigation. He is appealing against deportation.
Her Honour Judge Barbara Mensah made an order for the £18,665 cash to be donated to an offenders’ charity.
She said: “Osman’s account was dishonest and incredible and he deprived society of money.”
If you have information about the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco contact the HMRC fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.