A retailer, jailed for concealing a vast haul of illicit tobacco in a number of secret caches throughout his Wolverhampton store, has been ordered to pay back £61,000 or face another year behind bars.
Arkani Muradi, owner of Euro Shop in Wolverhampton, was caught out concealing almost 400,000 illicit cigarettes behind false walls, under floorboards, beneath a fridge and in a hole in the wall of his store, during a raid by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators in March, 2015.
The raid also uncovered 36 kilograms of illicit hand-rolling tobacco and 195 bottles of alcohol.
When caught, Arkani claimed to be a sales assistant and gave a false name when officers raided the store and the storage unit that he had also hired using an alias.
He pleaded guilty to 16 offences in March 2017 and was jailed for two years and two months for evading £58,675 in tax.
He has now been ordered to pay back £61,022 within three months under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
If he fails to do so, he will face another year in jail and still owe the money when released.
Debbie Porter, HMRC assistant director of fraud investigation, said: “Arkani tried to conceal illegal cigarettes in every possible hiding place of his shop then desperately tried to lie his way out.
“This case should serve as a warning to others involved in the illegal cigarette trade. The trade in illicit cigarettes takes funding away from essential public services, undermines legitimate traders and often funds further organised crime.
“I would urge anyone with any information about this type of criminality to contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”