Sheffield man and accomplice jailed after being caught with almost 700,000 illegal cigarettes
A Sheffield man, who was one half of a duo caught with almost 700,000 illegal cigarettes, has been jailed.
Aram Ibrahim, 32, of Rock Street, Sheffield and Hounar Baker, 35, formerly of of Marshfield Street, Bradford, were found to be storing illegal cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco worth over £212,000 in unpaid duty, and investigation by HM Revenue and Customs revealed.
HMRC officers visited Kosar Mini Market, on Southfield Lane, Bradford, in March 2017 and found over 3,000 non-UK duty paid cigarettes in a bag in the shop’s backroom.
At that time, Ibrahim was in charge of the shop.
On the same day, investigators discovered over 515,000 cigarettes and around 40 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco at a storage unit rented by Ibrahim on Beckside Road, Bradford.
More tobacco products were found at another storage united that was rented by Baker and the Kosar Mini Market address was on the rental agreement.
Baker, of no fixed abode, was caught with a stash of illegal goods at an address on Girlington Road one month later.
In total, he was caught with 181,080 cigarettes and 71 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.
Eden Noblett, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Ibrahim and Baker thought their stash of illegal goods would go undetected, but they were wrong.
“Trade in illegal tobacco harms legitimate businesses and deprives the UK of money which should be used to fund our public services.
“The duty evaded on these goods was equivalent to the salaries of nine new NHS nurses for a year. I encourage anyone with information on this type of fraud to report it to HMRC online, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
Ibrahim admitted excise fraud at Bradford Crown Court on February 18 and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Baker admitted excise fraud at Bradford Crown Court on December 18 and was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Proceedings are underway to recover the unpaid duty.