Leeds businessman dodged shisha tobacco duty
A businessman avoided paying more than Â£65,000 of duty on half a ton of flavoured shisha tobacco, a court heard.
Officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs found a container full of the product when they went to a storage warehouse on Kirkstall Road, Leeds.
Leeds Crown Court heard the storage unit belonged to Mehdi Jahani, who was out of the country at the time of the raid on March 12, 2016.
Officers discovered a further 83 kilograms of shisha tobacco at Jahani’s home on Daleside Road, Pudsey.
Alisadair Campbell, prosecuting, said a total of 628 kilograms of tobacco was seized.
The tobacco, which included blueberry, vanilla and apple flavours, was found in packaging labelled ‘incense’.
Mr Campbell said Jahani had failed to pay a total of £65,233 in duty on the tobacco.
The court heard customs officers became aware of Jahani’s deception while investigating another man who had been involved in the illegal shipment of four and a half tons of shisha tobacco into the UK in 18 consignments.
Investigations revealed Jahani had received deliveries between January and March 2016.
The prosecutor described Jahani’s offending as “sophisticated” as documentation was used to cover up the deception.
Jahani, 35, pleaded guilty to two offences of fraudulent evasion of duty.
Sarah Barlow, mitigating, said Jahani had been caught during an investigation to catch a more serious offender.
She said: “This is the tail end of a wider operation.”
Miss Barlow asked that Jahani be given credit for his guilty pleas and said he had no previous convictions.
Jahani was given a 12 month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work.
Recorder David Kelly told him: “You could not care less whether duty was being paid or not to maximise your profits.”