A tobacco fraudster has been handed a jail sentence after being found guilty on 43 charges, including forgery and conspiracy.

Amar Raouf Shakib, a company director, was sentenced to three years and four months in jail at the Auckland District Court today.

Customs seized 5.7 tonnes of fruit tobacco from Ormat Limited - Shakib's company - in May 2013, after invoices presented as part of the clearance process were found to have a lower value than the amount paid to the supplier.

A 43-month investigation by Customs found $525,000 of duty owing had been undervalued on fruit tobacco imports made between May 2009 and September 2013, with an attempt to evade $313,000 of the duty.


Customs investigations manager Maurice O'Brien said the importer and the overseas supplier colluded to avoid paying the correct amount of duty.

"The tobacco consignments were declared as 3kg cartons, when each weighed 6kg.

"Documents obtained under search warrant and extensive electronic forensic examination uncovered evidence of deliberate undervaluation and dual invoicing over five years.

"A laborious and exacting process was followed to review all the importations and gather evidence of fraud; and today's conviction sees years of hard work come to fruition," he said.