Ice-cream van smuggler forced to pay back profits
An illegal tobacco smuggler has been forced to pay back £185,000 of his ill-gotten gains to avoid facing a prison sentence.
Predeep Bahanda, 50, sneaked 980,000 cigarettes into the UK from Germany by hiding them in secret compartments in a delivery van, and planned to flog the fags from a fleet of ice-cream vans.
However, customs officers, who had Bahanda and his gang under surveillance, swooped to arrest him as the gang unloaded the tobacco into a factory.
After being identified as the leader of the operation, Newcastle Crown Court ordered Bahanda to cough up £185,000, which the Court ruled was the amount he pocketed from the scam, under the Proceeds of Crime Act and warned if he failed to do so he would face a three-year stretch in prison.
An HMRC spokeswoman said: “We hope that a clear message goes out to people who engage in smuggling crime – HMRC and our partner agencies take this crime very seriously.”
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