A man who used his furniture companies as a front to allow nearly 850,000 cigarettes to be smuggled into the UK and launder around £71,000 of taxpayer’s cash has been sentenced after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). He has also been disqualified from being a company director for five years.

In December 2012 Dan Mortoni from London, took part in a plot to import 600,000 non-UK duty paid cigarettes from Indonesia, using his company Premier Furniture. He had set up the company to give an air of legitimacy to the smuggling operation and to launder the criminal proceeds. The Benson & Hedges cigarettes were found at Felixstowe Port, inside a container hidden behind a load of furniture.

HMRC investigators also discovered that in November 2011 Mortoni had been involved

in a similar plot to import 240,000 non-UK duty paid cigarettes from Indonesia, via Felixstowe Port. He had used his company Hardware Tables to allow around 240,000 Marlboro Gold and Pall Mall cigarettes to be smuggled, which were found in a container hidden among hand-crafted rocking horses.

At Ipswich Crown Court Mortoni was sentenced to 16 months in prison, suspended for two years, and banned from being a company director for five years.

Paul Barton, assistant director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC said: “Mortoni set up these companies with the sole aim of using them to facilitate the smuggling of large quantities of cigarettes into the UK, and to launder the proceeds. He thought the businesses would provide the perfect shield to hide his criminal activity but he was wrong and is now living with the consequences.

“We encourage anyone with information regarding suspected tobacco smuggling and tax evasion to contact the Customs Hotline on 0800 595000.”