August 3, 2007

Cigarette haul on QE2 loaded in Gibraltar leads to man being found guilty in UK

This on a GIbraltar news site:

"A crew member of the QE2 luxury liner has been convicted of smuggling cigarettes after purchasing the tobacco while the ship was in Gibraltar last year.

Stephen Madden, the ship's provisions manger, was found guilty in a Southampton court.

A spectacular haul of 765,000 cigarettes had been found hidden onboard the QE2 luxury liner on return to Britain from a Mediterranean cruise. He had also smuggled further consignments of cigarettes on previous occasions, making a total of 1.8 million.


PANORAMA carried a detailed report when the news first broke last year. HM Customs in Britain told us that the cigarettes had been loaded in Gibraltar and duty had been evaded.

Customs officers working in Southampton Cruise Terminal seized the 765,000 cigarettes that were not properly declared to them on the QE2 after the liner arrived. "The officers discovered that the cigarettes had been loaded in Gibraltar and had not been placed in the ship’s bonded stores but had been hidden in a locked loading bay," PANORAMA was told.

As a result of the discovery, Customs Officers questioned a 41 year-old crew member “and established that the cigarettes had not been ordered and paid for by the ship but had been paid for in cash at a cost of over £31,000.”

A spokesperson added that the revenue evaded on the cigarettes was approximately £150,000.

“Customs are well aware of the risk of smuggling by crew members on board cruise liners and carry out regular checks on arriving vessels. It is clear that there were a number of serious irregularities in the way this large quantity of cigarettes were ordered, paid for and stored on the ship and we will continue with our enquiries. Cigarette smuggling is not a harmless tax fiddle. It costs £2.2 billion per year in lost revenue – money that would otherwise be funding schools, hospitals and other important public services,” a spokeman said at the time.

The crew member has now been found guilty of fraudulently evading duty and bailed until September for sentencing.

He had £31,000 in a brown paper bag when he paid for the haul at Gibraltar and hid them on the liner.The cigarettes were ordered by email before the ship arrived at Gibraltar.

There is concern about large quantities of cigarettes being smuggled from Gibraltar in cruise ships!"

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