It has a guide price of £25,000
A fraudster from Derby has appeared in court after he was convicted of evading hundreds of thousands of pounds in duties whilst organising the exchange of 700,000 illegally imported cigarettes.
A trio from Derby, Burton and Sheffield, orchestrated the delivery and sale of cigarettes from the continent worth £171,323 in unpaid duty , an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed, led by a ringleader.
The head of the gang, Philip Gregory, 61, from Nottinghamshire, has been jailed, but his fellow fraudsters, Riza Ali, 47, Saman Karim, 38, and Sarwar Omer, 42, walked free after being given suspended sentences.
During what Judge Jonathan Bennett, sentencing, described on Monday, September 5, as an “organised” and “smooth operation”, Gregory, whose defence cited his ill health and discussed the extent to which he was culpable in mitigation, used his car repair garage in Worksop, Nottingham, as a base to distribute illegal cigarettes.
Judge Bennett added: “In terms of the culpability, I place this in the highest bracket A.” Gregory was convicted of excise duty fraud following a trial at Derby Crown Court in August. Then on September 8 he was sentenced to three years in prison at the same court.
Three other gang members, Riza Ali, 47, from Derby, Saman Karim, from Burton, 38, and Sarwar Omer, 42, from Sheffield, were caught transporting more than 700,000 cigarettes in May, 2015. In February 2022 they pleaded guilty and have since received suspended prison sentences of more than three years.
On May 7, 2015, Karim was caught by police with 120,000 Richman cigarettes stashed in boxes in the back of his van, after being seen swapping his van with Philip Gregory in a Worksop car park. He claimed he wasn’t aware the van contained cigarettes and believed he was delivering food.
Gregory was also seen driving a van from his garage in Worksop to Derby, where he left it. The same van then left, joined in convoy with a second van that was driven by Sarwar Omer. Both vans stopped on a side street in Derby, where boxes of cigarettes were transferred.
HMRC officers approached the men and they fled, except for Sarwar Omer who was arrested. Riza Ali, who was also at the scene, attempted to flee but was caught and arrested. He
claimed he was not involved and was running away from what he thought was a fight. A search found 230,000 President cigarettes in one van and 360,000 mixed brand cigarettes in the other.
Other surveillance took place during similar exchanges at the Horse & Jockey pub car park and a Travel Lodge car park, Stockton on Tees, the Carlton Industrial Estate, Barnsley, as well as the car park outside B&Q in the retail park, Worksop.
Joanne Bagnall, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “The gang, led by Philip Gregory, was intent on flooding our streets with hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes.
“These kinds of cigarettes come at a cost as they undermine legitimate traders, take vital revenue away from our public services and can all too easily find their way into the hands of children. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online.”
Written by: Admin
It has a guide price of £25,000