Wembley tax evader who is on the run is jailed for five years in his absence

Mbarak Gowie has been jailed for five years

Mbarak Gowie has been jailed for five years - Credit: Archant

A Wembley man who tried to set up an illegal tobacco factory to avoid paying £500,000 in tax before jumping bail has been jailed in his absence.

Mbarak Gowie, of Oakington Avenue, failed to show up at Ipswich Crown Court for his week-long trial and was sentenced to five years in prison today.

The court heard the 47-year-old, who used a number of aliases including Moubarak Ghaoui, imported 4,904kgs of tobacco leaf from Pakistan but the parcel was intercepted by

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

After officers raided his home and a shisha café in north west London they discovered he had bought and imported ingredients needed to manufacture shisha tobacco, but had never applied for a licence to manufacture or store shisha tobacco.

The tax and duty due on the products amount to around £500,000.

He was convicted of conspiring to evade the duty chargeable on the production of processed tobacco by virtue of the tobacco.

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Paul Barton, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation, said: “This was a criminal enterprise on a huge scale, capable of producing large amounts of unregulated shisha and fruit flavoured tobacco. It would have lined the pockets of these men, at the expense of local shopkeepers, stealing income from the local economy.

We all have to pay our dues and this sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime.”

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Mbarak Gowie should call the 24-hour Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000.