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Brisbane Customs and Border Protection Seize Shipping Container from Hong Kong Containing Illegally Imported Tobacco

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (News4us.comMarch 09, 2011

Brisbane Customs and Border Protection Seize Shipping Container from Hong Kong Containing Illegally Imported Tobacco

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor today revealed more than 2.5 million illegally imported counterfeit cigarettes have been seized by Customs and Border Protection in Brisbane.

“This is a large seizure that represents an attempt to evade government revenue of almost $1.2 million,” Mr O’Connor said.

“While cigarettes and tobacco are not illegal items in Australia, it is against the law to fail to declare what is being brought into Australia and duty evasion is also illegal,” he said.

Counterfeit products can also be subject to civil action from the registered trademark owners.

“Customs and Border Protection is constantly assessing imports to Australia at our sea ports, as well as airports and postal centres, to catch people who seek to break Australia’s laws.”

In February, Customs officers at the Brisbane Container Examination Facility identified risks associated with a shipping container from Hong Kong that was marked by the importer as holding bubble wrap and lunch boxes.

Customs officers conducted an initial container x-ray and due to the scan showing inconsistencies, the goods were unpacked and a physical examination uncovered 2.5 million cigarettes.

Investigations are continuing into this matter.

Under the Customs Act the maximum penalties for smuggling and evading duties is five times the amount of duty evaded or $110,000, whichever is greater. Customs and Border Protection can also lay charges under the Criminal Code Act that can attract penalties of up to ten years jail.

“This seizure is a credit to hardworking Customs and Border Protection personnel and the state-of-the-art Container Examination Facility,” Mr O’Connor said.

Tobacco smuggling and counterfeit cigarette production are problems worldwide.

Over the past four years, Customs and Border Protection has seized 977 tonnes of tobacco and 286 million cigarette sticks in sea cargo. This has prevented potential revenue evasion of approximately $397 million.

Customs and Border Protection continues to work with international partners, law enforcement agencies and industry to combat illegal importation of tobacco and counterfeit cigarette production.

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