CUSTOMS officers are finding it “more difficult” to detect smuggled cigarettes because crime gangs are using legitimate companies as cover.
The C&AG report said that despite the seizure of vast quantities of smuggled cigarettes – 218 million in 2009 alone – it could not say this had “impacted” on the illicit trade.
The financial watchdog said Revenue had not developed a “high-level strategy” to target the illegal trade, which is depriving the state of around €200 million every year in lost duties and tax.
In its report, the C&AG said that much of Revenue’s operations against cigarette smuggling was based on intelligence.
But it added: “Revenue has suggested that it is becoming more difficult to identify suspect consignments because smugglers increasingly use the tax registration details of legitimate traders as a cover.”
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