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Publication date:- 2017-08-07

user-generated Headlines and reports on this page = 2 news items.    Page - 6.

Illegal tobacco traders to repay £175k

3 Lancashire men, who were jailed in 2016 for their part in a £16 million illegal tobacco fraud, have been ordered to repay more than £175,000 or serve extra time in jail. Wayne Brown, of Darwen, Keith Allen, of Oswaldtwistle, and James Willmott, of Clayton le Moors, were caught by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) buying illegal cigarettes and tobacco to sell on from Iqbal Haji of Blackburn, during a surveillance operation in 2014.

The men were jailed in May 2016 for their part in a fraud that centred on a criminal network based in Blackburn. 6 Lancashire men, including Haji, have been jailed to date in a series of linked Court cases.

Debbie Porter, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:- "These were middlemen in the illegal tobacco trade. Organised criminal gangs cannot operate without these middlemen to distribute illegal goods and circulate criminal cash. These three have ended up behind bars and we're now taking away everything their crimes got them. HMRC will recover money stolen through Tax fraud for UK Taxpayers. We will not allow criminals to profit from Tax evasion. We are determined to create a level playing field for local businesses by disrupting the illegal trade and punishing the fraudsters. We urge anyone with information about the black market in smuggled cigarettes and the associated Tax evasion to contact us on 0800 788 887."

On Monday 3 July 2017, Brown, 52, owner of Blackburn's Beechwood Club, was ordered to repay £67,616.16 within 3 months or a further 18 months will be added to his jail sentence and he will still owe the money. HMRC's financial investigators discovered Brown owned 12 rental properties in the Darwen and Blackburn areas in addition to the club. Retired Keith Allen, 67, was ordered to repay £65,444.16 within 3 months or a further 18 months will be added to his jail sentence and he would still owe the money. HMRC found Allen had property, shares and savings worth £65,444.16. Painter and decorator, James Willmott, 55, was ordered to repay £42,000 within 3 months or a further 15 months will be added to his jail sentence and he will still have to repay the money. HMRC found Willmott had £42,000 from the sale of a house. Further confiscation hearings are pending for others jailed as part of this case.

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