James Thacker and Jennifer Newcomb successfully prosecute evasion of over £1 million in customs duty
On 23 May 2018, Mariwan Fatah and Ali Jamal were unanimously convicted by a jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court of their leading role in an organised crime group. The group were involved in a complex operation to receive raw tobacco leaf from abroad before processing and distributing it to a network of purchasers without paying the duty due thereon. Evidence demonstrated a sophisticated enterprise involving tobacco processing plants, multiple workers, including processors and couriers, and ties to other organised crime groups. The trial lasted 6 weeks. In sentencing, HHJ Gordon took a 'very conservative' estimate of the total duty evaded as being in excess of £1 million.
Each Defendant was sentenced on 24 May 2018 to 5 years 9 months' in prison. In his sentencing remarks, HHJ Gordon particularly noted the use of foreign nationals as workers in processing plants, living and working in an 'utterly unhealthy environment for your commercial gain', as an aggravating factor in sentencing.