Published: 16:06, 26 June 2021
| Updated: 16:08, 26 June 2021
A lorry driver who was paid £10,000 to smuggle hundreds of thousands of cigarettes and almost two tonnes of rolling tobacco into the country has been jailed.
Peter Szalay, 40, from Hungary, was stopped as he arrived in Dover on a ferry from Calais on April 17 by Border Force officials.
When a search of his lorry was carried out officers found 639,000 illicit cigarettes and 1.9 tonnes of hand-rolling tobacco hidden among packets of dried noodle soup.
The duty evaded on the tobacco was £749,272.
Szalay admitted he had been paid £5,000 to import the non-duty paid tobacco and cigarettes and was due to receive a further £5,000 on delivery.
Appearing at Folkestone Magistrates Court in April, he pleaded guilty to the fraudulent evasion of excise duty and was this week sentenced to 20 months in jail at Maidstone Crown Court.
HM Revenue and Customs seized £4,830 cash from him, which was forfeited at a court hearing earlier this month. The tobacco and cigarettes were seized and will be destroyed.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by HMRC. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call our fraud hotline on 0800 788 887.”