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British Columbia food importer fined $25,000 for smuggling

British Columbia food importer fined $25,000 for smuggling

NEW YORK: A Burnaby food importer has been fined $25,000 for illegally importing thousands of kilograms of cheese and evading more than $460,000 in duties. The fine was imposed after Manuel De Oliveira, the owner of Beira Mar Importers Co. Ltd., pleaded guilty to wilful evasion or attempted evasion of duties and to importing or attempting to import dairy products without an import declaration.

The offences were committed over a five-year period, from 2005 and 2010, when De Oliveira had a permit to import 4,300 kilograms of cheese annually.But court heard that on 10 occasions, he either failed to report cheese shipments entirely or under-reported amounts of cheese.

He illegally imported a total of 18,725 kilograms of cheese, worth an estimated $188,000 US, and representing an evasion of $461,000 in duties.

When he under-reported cheese, he would obtain two invoices — one showing the correct amount and value and one showing a lesser amount and value.The cheese, mainly from Portugal, was transported through the United States into Canada.