A fraudster who was jailed for selling illegal cigarettes from his Wolverhampton shop has been told to pay back £61,000 or face an additional year behind bars.
Arkani Muradi, 37, of Highfield Road, Birmingham, was caught hiding almost 400,000 cigarettes behind false walls, under floorboards, beneath a fridge and in a hole in a wall, by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators in March, 2015.
He was jailed in June 2017 for two years and two months for evading £58,675 in tax, and has now been ordered to pay back £61,022 within three months or he will face another year in jail and still owe the money when released.
During the investigation Muradi claimed to be a sales assistant and not the owner of his Euro Shop, in New Hampton Road West, Wolverhampton. He also gave a false name when officers raided his shop and a storage unit he had hired using an alias.
HMRC officers, working with Trading Standards, also recovered 36 kilograms of hand-rolling tobacco and 195 bottles of alcohol.
Debbie Porter, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Muradi 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 788887.”