Pensioner charged in 12 million cigarette fraud case

A 73-year-old from Boston has been charged for an alleged part in dodging £2million duty on 12 million cigarettes and 465 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco.

Arthur Rhodes, 73, Forest Dale, is one of ten men from across the UK who was charged last week and released on bail.

Mr Rhodes is due to appear at Skegness Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, April 17 charged with being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of Excise Duty.

The other nine men are from High Wycombe (2), Sheffield, Reading, London, Middlesex, Beesby, Newbury in Berkshire and Walsall.

All were charged last week and released on bail to appear before Magistrates at dates during April.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) spokesman Bob Gaiger said: “Tobacco smuggling costs the UK economy around £2 billion a year, money that is needed to fund vital public services.

“Anyone with information about tobacco smuggling can contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 59 5000 or email customs.hotline@hmrc.gov.uk.”

HM Revenue & Customs officers arrested four of the men in April 2011 following the seizure of 10 million cigarettes, approximately £14,000 in cash, an unlicensed shot gun and a number of motor vehicles, during raids in North Hampshire and Berkshire.

During a two day operation, officers discovered some of the cigarettes being unloaded at a remote farm on the Berkshire / Hampshire border.

Inquiries led to six more arrests and additional seizures of tobacco and cash.