Food producer jailed for six years in Ireland's biggest garlic scam yet 6 years ago

Food producer jailed for six years in Ireland's biggest garlic scam yet

It's the scam that has rocked the garlic-producing world - a Dublin food importer has been jailed for six years after failing to pay €1.6 million in tax over imported Chinese garlic.

46-year-old Paul Begley, the head of Ireland's biggest fruit and vegetables producers Begley Brothers, was found guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court yesterday for evading paying import duty on over 1,000 tonnes of Chinese garlic, which typically yields import duty rates 24 times higher than regular fruit and veg.

The maximum sentence for Mr Begley's crime is five years in prison, yet Judge Martin Nolan imposed a maximum term for one count and one year on another account, which will run consecutively for six years behind bars.

Mr Begley, who pleaded guilty to four counts of evading customs duty between 2003 and 2007, was originally rumbled after Dublin Port custom officers discovered that he had been shipping Chinese garlic using falsified importation documents that described the garlic as apples.

Garlic smuggling, particularly that of Chinese garlic - which producers claim cannot be competed against due to the country's production costs and high volume - is widespread across the EU, with customs interceptions reported in recent months in both Sweden and Poland.