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Man sentenced over £8.5million tobacco fraud
7:30am Friday 6th September 2013 in News
A MAN from Springfield has been given a suspended prison sentence for his part in an £8.5million tobacco fraud operation.
At Nottingham Crown Court, Paul Percival was handed a 21 month jail term which has been suspended for 18 months.
The 52-year-old, of Cowdrie Way, also received a six month community order requiring him to carry out 240 hours of unpaid work and stick to a home curfew, from 9pm to 6am each day.
Percival was part of a 13-strong gang which planned to bring in raw leaf tobacco from abroad before cutting and shredding it to sell-on using the name of a well known brand.
More than 1,500kg of tobacco was seized following HMRC’s Operation Hippolamp.
Manufacturing plants were set up around the West Midlands by the crooks, with Percival’s role being to import tobacco shredding machines from Russia and purchasing the tobacco.
The gang was led by Philip Hall, 52, of Highland Way, Rugeley, and Ruskin Road, Wolverhampton, who is currently in prison for similar offences.
Gary Lampon, HMRC’s assistant director of criminal investigations, said: “This was a well organised international crime gang.
“Masterminded by career criminal Phillip Hall, the smuggling plot operated on a commercial scale, both in its organisation of capital and its workforce.
“They had no regard for the money they stole from public finances and honest taxpayers, which has been substantial. We are determined to bring those involved in this form of criminality before the courts so justice can be served.”
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