A SOLIHULL businessman has been ordered pay back £150,000 of criminal profits or face jail following his involvement in a £60,000 tobacco counterfeiting plant and money laundering.
James Anderson was running a tobacco factory from adjoining industrial units he rented in Wythall with Phillip O’Brien of Stratford-upon-Avon and Nicholas Edmunds from Walsall.
During a raid in January 2013, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators seized more than 1.3 tonnes of raw leaf, shredded and hand rolling tobaccos, as well as equipment to shred, spray and package the counterfeit tobacco.
A fourth man, Bradley Bailey, 29, laundered the cash for the gang.
Anderson was ordered to pay back £150,000 or face 18 months in prison, O’Brien has to pay back £20,178.70 or face eight months in prison and Edmunds has to pay back £2,367.50 or face two months behind bars.
All three men have three months to pay.
Peter McDermott, assistant director at Fraud Investigation Services, said: “Crime really doesn’t pay.
“We are determined to recover stolen tax from criminals who think they can steal from the public purse and get away with it.
“This confiscation order shows that we don’t stop once someone has been jailed, but our actions continue until we have deprived criminals of their illegal profits.
“This recovered cash will be directed to where it should have been – towards funding vital public services.
“Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.4 billion a year.”
Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol should contact Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.