28 March 2014 07:36

The government has lost as much as €730,000 in missing tax revenues in the last 15 months from the contraband cigarette and tobacco trade, according to data released by the Customs and Excise Department.
Based on the figures, from January 1, 2013 to March 24, 2014 customs investigated 1, 694 cases involving trading and smuggling of contraband cigarettes and tobacco products.
During the investigations customs officials seized and destroyed 1,561,673 cigarettes of various brands, 3,613kg of tobacco and 756 cigars or cigarillos.  
The single largest seizure occurred on December 19, 2013 when customs officials in cooperation with the police raided an establishment in Nicosia and seized 148X200 of VICTORY cigarettes, 89X200 ESSE, 23X200 TOROS, 18X20 RIVER, 4X20 M.M, 7X20 SUPERSLIMS RAGUEL, 5X50g MOIST VIRGINIA tobacco and 7X50g of CAPTAIN BLACK GOLD tobacco.
The cigarettes and tobacco packs did not carry government health warnings or official tax stamps proving they were illegally manufactured.
The smuggler was found guilty of trading illegal cigarettes and ordered to pay a fine by a district court.
According to the Customs Department, during this 15-month period the state suffered loses in the region of €730,000 from excise duties, however, the figure does not factor loses in revenue from VAT (at 18% and 19%).
In September Cyprus was named in a publication in the Financial Times as one of the main manufacturers of cigarettes that are illegally smuggled into Britain.
According to the article, almost 9% of all cigarettes seized in Ireland last year were manufactured by companies based in Cyprus, while 4% came from Italian-based manufacturers.
The article stated that 'ant smugglers' fly to countries such as Cyprus and Eastern Europe where cigarette prices are low and bring them in on regular flights.
Minister of Justice Ionas Nicolaou at the time said the authorities would be investigating the claims as part of Cyprus' commitment to combat all forms of crime including cigarette smuggling.
 


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