Hefty fines - lengthy imprisonments..
March 11, 2011 - Customs and border protection staff in Brisbane have seized more than 2.5 million illegally imported cigarettes. They were found in a shipping container from Hong Kong earmarked to contain bubble wrap and lunch boxes.
Under the Customs Act the penalty for smuggling and evading duty is five times the amount of tax evaded and a possible 10-year jail sentence.
Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor says the seizure of that many counterfeit cigarettes represents an attempt to evade government revenue of almost $1.2 million.
"While cigarettes and tobacco are not illegal items in Australia, it is against the law to fail to declare what is being brought into Australia, and duty evasion is also illegal," Mr O'Connor said.
"Counterfeit products can also be subject to civil action from the registered trademark owners."
Last month, Customs officers at the Brisbane Container Examination Facility were suspicious of a shipping container from Hong Kong marked by the importer as holding bubble wrap and lunch boxes. Officers conducted an initial container X-ray, and when that raised their suspicions, the goods were unpacked and a physical examination uncovered the cigarettes.
Over the past four years Customs and Border Protection has seized 977 tonnes of tobacco and 286 million cigarettes in sea cargo, preventing potential revenue evasion of about $397 million.
Reference: Profits from seized cigarettes up in smoke, ABC/AAP, (Australian Broadcasting Corporation/Australian Associated Press), abc.gov.au, 3/10/2011.
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