The high cost of cigarettes in Australia, and their comparative cheapness overseas, has opened up a lucrative new source of revenue for smugglers – cigarettes and tobacco.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers have seized almost 50,000 cigarettes which were allegedly smuggled into Australia by a Chinese national.
The officers selected the 60-year-old man for a baggage examination after he arrived on a flight from China last Sunday.
During an examination of the man’s baggage the officers allegedly located 49,120 cigarettes, which would have a duty payable of AUD 29,524.
Travellers are allowed to bring 50 cigarettes duty free into Australia. The man is alleged to have been carrying about 1000 times that amount.
Acting ABF Regional Commander Victoria/Tasmania Glenn Scutts said the seizure highlighted the ongoing work undertaken by the ABF to combat tobacco smuggling.
“Undeclared cigarettes pose a risk given the unknown source of the tobacco and are a clear attempt to defraud Australian taxpayers of legitimate tax revenue,” Commander Scutts said.
“The ABF takes very seriously any revenue evading attempt and this seizure should serve as a warning to anyone involved in this type of activity – it is only a matter of time before you will be caught.
“This is a timely reminder to passengers arriving in Australia that we have strict laws which outline the quantity of cigarettes and tobacco which can be imported for personal use.”
The maximum penalty for tobacco smuggling is up to 10 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to five times the amount of duty evaded.
Investigations into this seizure are ongoing.
Edited by Peter Needham