Smuggler jailed for tax offences.

A man has been sentenced to three years in jail after failing to reveal details of profits made from smuggling activities to the taxman, writes Larry Schlesinger.

The man, known only as H due to reporting restrictions, was given the opportunity to make a full disclosure under the Inland Revenue’s Hansard rule.

Under the rule, H would have been able to settle his liabilities on a civil basis with the Revenue and would not have had to serve any jail time.

But H did not co-operate with Revenue investigators, alleging before his trial began that he had been a registered informer for Customs & Excise and had been given immunity from paying tax. Customs admitted H had worked as an informer but denied he had immunity.

H was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court, following an investigation by the Bristol Special Compliance Office which began in January. The investigation revealed that H ran a successful tobacco smuggling operation.

The Revenue found H lived a lavish lifestyle spending £400,000 of his smuggling profits promoting a rock band. The investigation found H was bringing in substantial amounts of money into the country.

During the trial, a number of Customs witnesses, who had worked under cover, gave evidence behind screens and through a voice-distorting machine to protect their identity. Sentence was passed by Justice Wiggs who took into consideration that H owed the Revenue over £200,000 in taxes.

Police get tax powers, page 6.

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