Leeds men caught smuggling illegal tobacco into the UK

Three Leeds men, who tried to smuggle more than 200 kilos of shisha tobacco worth more than £30,000 into the UK, have been sentenced at court.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:40 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:43 pm
Leeds Magistrates' Court

Weldegaber Tesfamichael, 35, of East Park Mount; Yonas Tekle, 32, of Shakespeare Approach; and Samail Oghibazghi, 42, of Roundhay Road; were caught with tobacco worth £30,716.57 in unpaid duty and VAT at Manchester Airport when Border Force officers searched their bags as they arrived from Dubai into the UK on November 11 last year.

Officers seized 204.45 kilos of shisha tobacco and the case was passed to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) for investigation.

Tesfamichael admitted excise fraud at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on February 28 this year and was sentenced to a 12 month Community Order and 130 hours unpaid work, to be completed within a year. Tekle and Oghibazghi admitted excise fraud at the same court last Friday and were each sentenced to a 12 month Community Order and 130 hours unpaid work, to be completed within a year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Proceedings are now underway to recover the unpaid duty.

An HMRC spokesperson said:“This was a shameless attempt to smuggle illegal tobacco goods into the country and deprive the UK of money which should be used to fund our public services.

“HMRC will continue to pursue tax cheats like Tesfamichael, Tekle and Oghibazghi. We encourage anyone with information about tax fraud to report it to us online, or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”