PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian man, arrested in 2017, has been sentenced to five years in prison for smuggling more than six million cigarettes into Australia, says the Australian Border Force (ABF).
ABF said that the cigarettes were concealed within “sophisticated cover loads”, adding that the cigarettes, which originated from Malaysia, had a total duty evasion of more than A$4mil (RM11.6mil).
The man, who was not named in ABF's website or other reports, pleaded guilty when charged in the Melbourne County Court, and on Feb 20 was sentenced to five years in prison with a non-parole period of three years.
He was one of two syndicate organisers who were intercepted trying to leave Australia on Aug 13, 2017.
Both were arrested and charged with organising the importation of the six million smuggled cigarettes.
Meanwhile another organiser has also pleaded guilty in court and will face sentencing in April.
In a statement on its website, the ABF said three Malaysians were found in two factories unpacking tobacco on Aug 10, 2017.
They were arrested and charged under the Customs Act 1901, with possession of tobacco products, knowing that the goods were imported with the intention of defrauding revenue.
They were convicted and sentenced to between 16 and 24 months' imprisonment.
“The outcome demonstrates the commitment by the Australian government, through the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, to detect, disrupt and dismantle organised crime syndicates involved in this activity,” ABF said in a statement on Saturday (Feb 23).
It added that in the last financial year, the ABF also made more than 110,000 detections of illicit tobacco at the border including almost 240 million cigarettes and 217 tonnes of tobacco, worth more than A$356mil (RM1.034bil) in evaded duty.