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Seized: 1.5 million smuggled cigarettes, $2 million cash

Seized: 1.5 million smuggled cigarettes, $2 million cash

About 1.5 million smuggled cigarettes and more than $2 million cash have been seized in what Customs says is New Zealand’s largest-scale alleged tobacco fraud.

Five garbage bags full of cash were discovered by investigators, alongside 1.5 million cigarettes, when search warrants were executed at multiple Auckland addresses last week.

“This investigation has uncovered the largest-scale tobacco fraud to date, with the tax evasion already estimated to be at least $1.8m,” Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said.

Police have also frozen a number of assets, including two properties worth several million dollars, two luxury cars and several bank accounts.
An Auckland businessman was arrested at Auckland airport on November 21 as he attempted to leave the country. The man has since been charged with defrauding Customs revenue.