Show download pdf controls
  • Illicit Tobacco Taskforce strikes again

    The Illicit Tobacco Taskforce (ITTF) is continuing to disrupt the illicit tobacco market in Australia, this time seizing and destroying 1.5 tonnes of tobacco with a potential excise value of more than $1.3 million from a property near Grafton in New South Wales.

    On Saturday, 11 August, Australian Taxation Office (ATO) officers working as part of the Australian Border Force-led ITTF attended the property where they located nearly three acres of tobacco being illegally grown. The operation, the second under the ITTF, was conducted with support from the Australian Border Force (ABF) and NSW Police Force.

    ATO Assistant Commissioner, Peter Vujanic, said this seizure showed the effectiveness of a cross-agency approach to illegal tobacco.

    “By working as part of the Illicit Tobacco Taskforce, the ATO is able to more effectively target the criminal syndicates who seek to profit from the sale of illegal tobacco on the black market,” Mr Vujanic said.

    “Every crop we seize and destroy burns another hole in the illegal tobacco trade.”

    ABF Enforcement Command Assistant Commissioner, Sharon Huey, said the seizure should serve as another warning to the criminal groups involved in this kind of activity.

    “Cracking down on the illicit tobacco market is a key focus for the ABF and by combining our resources and expertise with that of the ATO and our ITTF partners, we are now disrupting this activity on multiple fronts,” Assistant Commissioner Huey said.

    “Whether it’s detections at the border, or destroying illicit tobacco crops in regional Australia, we now have the ability to go after these individuals and criminal groups wherever they operate.”

    Recent estimates from the ATO and the Department of Home Affairs reveal that almost $600 million in tobacco duty was foregone in 2015-16 financial year as a result of the trade in illicit tobacco.

    It has been illegal to grow tobacco in Australia for more than a decade, with no licensed tobacco producers growing the crop since 2006. Since July 2016, the ATO has undertaken 37 seizures totalling 231 tonnes of illicit tobacco with estimated tobacco duty forgone of $194 million.

    In the last financial year the ABF also made more than 110,000 detections of illicit tobacco at the border including almost 240 million cigarettes and 217 tonnes of tobacco, worth more than $356 million in evaded duty.

    The ITTF is an ABF-led taskforce that combines the operational, investigative and intelligence capabilities of the ABF, ATO, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

    Last modified: 13 Aug 2018QC 56480