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Attila Tanko of Hungary jailed for 18 months for smuggling 2,000kg of tobacco into Dover

A haulage company boss who tried to smuggle 2,000 kilos of tobacco into the UK has been jailed for 18 months today.

Attila Tanko, 44, was caught at Dover, with the hand-rolling tobacco hidden in boxes marked "tents".

He had tried to evade £442,360 in excise duty.

Attila Tanko. Picture: HMRC
Attila Tanko. Picture: HMRC

Border Force officers had stopped his lorry after it arrived at the Port on September 12 and he was arrested after the stash was found.

It was seized and HM Revenue and Customs were called in to investigate.

Tanko claimed he was "tapped up" at a rest stop in Luxembourg by a man who asked him to deliver the tobacco in exchange for €2,000.

Tanko, from the city of Szigetszentmiklós in Hungary, pleaded guilty to fraudulent evasion of duty on September 13 and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court.

He is owner of the Chariots of Fire KFT haulage company, based in that country.

The haul in Tanko's lorry. Picture: HMRC
The haul in Tanko's lorry. Picture: HMRC

After the case Tom Hunnisett, assistant director at the HMRC Fraud Investigation Service, said: “Tanko was wrong to think he could get away with smuggling tobacco into the UK for his own financial gain.

"The illegal tobacco trade has a harmful effect on legitimate businesses and deprives us of money needed to fund our vital public services.

"The duty evaded on this illicit tobacco was equivalent to the salaries of 19 nurses in Kent for a year."

Fully qualified nurses can start on salaries of £23,023.

Paul Morgan, director of Border Force South East and Europe said: “This is just one example of the crucial work that Border Force officers do every day to help keep the UK safe and protect the economy. Detections such as this are testament to their dedication and expertise.

“We will continue to work with HMRC to bring those engaged in smuggling to justice.”

Anyone who has information about the smuggling, selling or storing of illicit tobacco to report it online to HMRC, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.

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