An Auckland businessman has been arrested and charged after almost half a million cigarettes were smuggled into the country.
The 40-year-old man appeared in Auckland District Court yesterday and further charges were likely, Customs said.
The man imported a shipping container of foodstuffs from China under his business trading name.
An inspection by biosecurity officials revealed the container held almost 2500 cartons of Chinese-branded cigarettes hidden inside the boxes of food.
Customs said the revenue evaded for this quantity of cigarettes was more than half a million dollars.
It was the second arrest for organised large-scale cigarette smuggling in recent weeks.
Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said these cases were a warning to people who thought Customs does not take revenue evasion seriously.
"It's not illegal to import cigarettes but it must be declared and the correct duty and GST paid. Revenue fraud or tax evasion is a serious crime and Customs will not hesitate to prosecute," he said.