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Lebanon imposes $2.3M in fines on tobacco sellers

BEIRUT: Authorities carried out 415 raids against tobacco sellers across Lebanon last month and imposed more than $2 million in fees on smugglers and tax evaders, the Finance Ministry announced Thursday.

“From March 2, and during 20 days only, 415 raids were performed and 165 fees were imposed on smugglers,” Minister Ali Hasan Khalil told a news conference, adding that the fees totaled a value of LL3.5 billion ($2.3 million).

Khalil made the announcement at a news conference after touring the facilities of state-run tobacco company Regie. Khalil and the head of the company spoke about joint efforts to crack down on tax-evasion and tobacco smuggling.

“We have set new plans for this year, and they include rising the penalties on smuggling and fining importers for all products they smuggle,” Khalil said.

The crackdown has also targeted counterfeit products. A number of machines used in illegal packaging of cigars had also been confiscated.

The Finance Ministry last month encouraged individuals aware of tobacco smuggling to notify authorities for a financial reward.

The news came amid a recent crackdown carried out by the Finance Ministry against corruption at the Customs Department and real estate sector

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