Published: 16:25, 25 August 2017
A Canterbury shopkeeper caught with a van load of nearly a ton of raw tobacco leaf faces two years in prison unless he repays more than £150,000 in criminal profits.
Revenue and customs officers swooped on Mahmud Mariwan, 44, near the Day Day International Food Store which he was running in Sturry Road while the owner was out of the country.
He was arrested on suspicion of preparing to process tobacco leaf into hand-rolling tobacco and pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court in April to fraudently evading £178,000 in excise duty.
He was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years. But a confiscation hearing which took place at the court on August 18 determined the criminal benefit he gained was £185,826.
Mariwan, of Ashford Road, Canterbury, now has to pay the value of the assets £153,215 within three months or go to prison for two years and still owe the money.
Debbie Porter, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: "Our investigations don't stop at sentencing. It is important that we prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes and recover the money to fund public services.
"If Mariwan doesn’t pay back what he owes, he will go to jail and still owe the money. We encourage anyone with information about the smuggling, storage or sale of illegal tobacco and cigarettes to contact our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”
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