Four jailed in fake tobacco plot

04 April, 2011

Four men have been jailed for conspiring to cheat the public revenue after setting up a counterfeit tobacco factory.

The gang were in the process off setting up the operation when HM Revenue & Customs officers and the police raided premises in Suffolk, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Essex in July 2008.

Over 16 tones of raw leaf tobacco with a duty estimate of £1.9 million was found on a Leicestershire farm. The plan was to turn it into rolling tobacco.

Robert Minshall, of Falmouth Avenue, Newmarket, Suffolk, was jailed for two-and-a half-years for his part in the plot, which involved placing an order for manufacturing equipment with a company in Bulgaria.

Machine operation and manufacture was handled by two men: Nigel Barton, of Greythorn Drive, West Bridgford, Notts, was jailed for 30 months; and David Scott, of Thackerays Lane, Woodthorpe, Notts, was jailed for 18 months.

William Sartin, of Timberlog Lane, Basildon, Essex was also involved in the conspiracy and was jailed for 14 months,

“This was a planned fraud on a huge scale,” said Jon Kay, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigation.

“If it had not been stopped the UK market would have been flooded with massive quantities of illegal, counterfeit tobacco.”

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