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Importer jailed for tobacco fraud

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/02/2017

A company director has been jailed for fraud after undervaluing imports of fruit tobacco to try to evade duty.

Amar Raouf Shakib was sentenced in the Auckland District Court to three years and four months in prison after being found guilty on 43 charges.

They included forgery, conspiracy, defrauding the revenue of Customs and false accounting.

Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien says 5.7 tonnes of fruit tobacco were seized from Ormat Ltd in May 2013.

The seizure came after invoices presented as part of the import clearance process were found to have a lower value than the amount paid to the supplier.

Mr O'Brien said a 43-month investigation found $525,000 of duty owing had been undervalued on imports made between May 2009 and September 2013, with an attempt to evade $313,000 of the duty.

He says the importer and his overseas supplier colluded to evade paying the correct amount of duty.

The consignments were declared as 3kg cartons, when each weighed 6kg.

"Documents obtained under search warrant and extensive electronic forensic examination uncovered evidence of deliberate undervaluation and dual invoicing," Mr O'Brien said.

"This is an outstanding result that is the culmination of years of work piecing together the evidence."

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