Customs clamps down on pipe dreams

Coffee and tobacco manufacturer Douwe Egberts Van Nelle Tobacco International has been ordered to pay almost #175,000 excise duty after losing a VAT tribunal case.

Customs & Excise officials checked two UK consignments of Douwe Egberts pipe smoking tobacco imported from the Netherlands with duty of #40.24 per kilo. The consignments were distributed by the Virginia Tobacco Company to Nurdin & Peacock Cash & Carry.

Customs analysis found the consignments to be hand rolling tobacco, which carries a higher excise duty of #85.94 per kilo, and ordered Douwe Egberts to pay the extra. Douwe gave the two companies indemnities for any additional excise duty.

The consignments were imported into the UK between March and July 1996.

The companies were ordered to pay #121,333 and #53,926 respectively.

Malcolm Palmer, chairman of the London Tribunal Centre, said there was ‘no doubt’ the shipment was cut as hand rolling tobacco and so additional duty was payable.

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