The UK and Dubai have today announced how their cooperation has resulted in the seizure of 198 million illicit cigarettes and 122 tonnes of other illicit tobacco products (approx 450 metric tonnes in total) in the UAE which was destined for the UK. These seized products had a potential cost in lost tax revenue of ₤175 million (AED840 million).
The UK and UAE are both global trading nations whose ports process millions of tons of freight each day. While an important part of each country’s economy, some do target this busy industry for criminal gain.
To tackle this threat, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, HMRC, have a Fiscal Crime Liaison Unit permanently based within the British Embassy in Dubai. They work closely with their counterparts in the Dubai Customs to intercept illicit goods destined to be sold on the black market in the UK.
This cooperation has so far resulted in the seizure of 198 million illicit cigarettes and 122 tons of other illicit tobacco products since April 2018 which represents a value of over ₤175 million (AED840 million) in potential lost UK tax revenue. This is equivalent to around 7,800 firefighters or 7,600 newly qualified nurses in the UK.
HMRC Director of Fraud Investigation, Simon York, said, "As the UK and UAE are global trading hubs, it is essential that we work together in defence of our mutual security and prosperity. Together we have seized an incredible haul, disrupted criminal gangs and protected revenue vital to funding our public services. I want to pay tribute to all involved and to the expertise and effort of the team at Dubai Customs for this valuable cooperation.’’ Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, Director General of Dubai Customs, said, "We work hard to develop our ties of cooperation and partnership with the UK towards more growth in mutual trade and better protection against illegitimate trade. This is part of our vision, and we view the UK as one of the major markets in Europe and worldwide. This seizure reflects the important role Dubai Customs plays in fighting illegitimate trade and fraudulent activities in order to secure the international trade supply chain. Dubai’s external trade with the UK in 2018 totalled about AED35.5 billion (₤7.4 bn). Imports took the lion’s share with AED23.9 billion (₤5 bn), followed by re-exports with AED9.8 billion (₤ 2 bn) and exports with AED 1.8 billion (₤377.1 mn). The UK was Dubai’s 9th major trade partner in 2018."
Musabih added that the shared work to intercept illegal tobacco products and entrap international groups which work in this illegal business reflects the significance of cooperation between different government and semi-government departments, Regional Intelligence Liaison Office and Customs offices.