A 36-year-old businessman was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on October 26, 2017 to three and a half years’ jail for evading $4 million of duty and GST on imports of Soju – a type of Korean alcohol.
Jun Lee, shadow director of an Auckland-based company Youngs NZ International Limited, was convicted for using forged documents and evading the correct payment of duty and GST for 50 containers of Soju that were imported from South Korea over a four-year period.
Customs began investigating the company in 2014, and identified that Lee was using double invoices to show a lower value and declaring shipments as beer instead of Soju, as beer has a lower duty rate.
Customs searched several containers, and found that the front row of each box contained beer, but the remaining bottles were soju – 22,800 bottles per shipment, over a million bottles in 50 shipments.
The soju was labelled for the domestic market in South Korea, and would have been relabelled before being sold to New Zealand retailers and restaurants.
Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry said that the sentencing should send a strong message that Customs takes revenue fraud very seriously.
“Mis-declaring, concealing goods or using under-valued invoices is a serious offence that Customs can investigate. We may not take immediate steps as we gather evidence of systematic fraud, but perpetrators can expect to be prosecuted.
“In this case, the offender organised these shipments and provided forged invoices to a Customs broker over a four-year period, evading around $4 million in duty,” he said.
To report suspected fraudulent activity, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS in confidence.
Source: New Zealand Customs
Beer bottles conceal Soju, which attracts higher duty