Polish lorry driver jailed after smuggling 1.8 million cigarettes into Dover
PUBLISHED: 15:23 04 October 2017
Mariusz Chorazy evaded some £404,000 in excise duty
A Polish lorry driver, who fled the UK after he was caught smuggling 1.8 million cigarettes into Dover four years ago, has finally been jailed.
Mariusz Chorazy, 54, was arrested by Border Force officers at Dover Eastern Docks on August 30, 2013 after eight pallets of non-duty paid ‘MG’ brand cigarettes were found hidden within legitimate freight from Switzerland.
According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which led the investigation and extradition, some £404,000 in excise duty was evaded.
The HMRC probe revealed that the lorry had taken a 130 kilometre detour through Belgium and the Netherlands, where the cigarettes were loaded, on the way to Dunkerque ferry port.
Chorazy failed to answer bail in November 2013 and it was established he had left the UK.
He was apprehended by Polish authorities in June 2017, who worked closely with HMRC to return Chorazy to the UK on August 10, 2017.
He was immediately charged with evading excise duty and remanded in custody at Margate Magistrates Court.
Tim Clarke, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “We will continue to ensure absconders, such as Chorazy, face justice.
“Time and distance do not stand in the way of our criminal investigators, and close cooperation with our international partners means nobody is beyond our reach.
“Anyone with information about tobacco smuggling, which robs the UK of around £2.4 billion a year, or knowledge of the location of wanted fugitives, should call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”
On September 7, four years after committing the crime, Chorazy pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court.
He was jailed on Wednesday at the same court for two years.
Judge Adele Williams said Chorazy should be deported upon release from prison, adding: “This is a very serious matter causing significant loss of revenue to the United Kingdom.”
Chorazy is the eighth fugitive to be returned to the UK to face tax justice this year.
The others include Lieb Berger, Antonio De Sousa, Mbarak Gowie, Wayne Hardy, and Geoffrey Johnson.