Duo fined $420k for 720 cartons of cigarettes

National 1 minute, 57 seconds

TWO men were imposed a total of $420,000 in fines yesterday for possession of 720 cartons of untaxed cigarettes.

In addition to the $210,000 fine, Indonesian national Nur Maarif Hj Mahridi, 50, was further sentenced to serve one year in jail for pleading guilty to charges of illegally re-entering Brunei after he was barred from the country and an $800 fine for driving without a license.

Both Nur Maarif and co-accused Mohammad Azwan Hassan, 20, were ordered to pay their respective fines immediately or serve the in-default sentence of 12 months in jail for the customs offence.

During the proceedings yesterday, Azwan admitted that on February 16, he directed co-accused Nur Maarif to drive a pick-up truck to Kg Junjungan to meet two men from Limbang and pick up cigarettes which Nur Maarif had placed an order earlier.

Following their arrest, Nur Maarif admitted to ordering $6,250 worth of cigarettes from the two men.

Nur Maarif further admitted that he had intended to sell the cigarettes in Brunei as he had been selling these for the past five months.

Azwan admitted that he was hired by his friend, only known as Acu, to show Nur Maarif where to pick up the cigarettes and that Acu would pay him $30 for the job.

The excise duty for the seized cigarettes amounted to $32,800 in total.

Nur Maarif further admitted that he was not in possession of a valid driving license or any travel documents.

Further investigation revealed that Nur Maarif was listed as a prohibited immigrant barred from entering Brunei since his conviction on December 16, 2014 for customs offences.

Nur Maarif was removed from Brunei on July 13, 2015 after he was released from prison.

He was also informed that he was barred from entering Brunei unless he obtains a written authority from the Controller of Immigration.

However, Nur Maarif had entered Brunei from Limbang, Sarawak unlawfully without the consent of the Controller of Immigration and he has been staying at a rented house in Brunei for six months.

In their mitigation yesterday, Nur Maarif had sought for leniency in sentencing as he has children who are dependent on him in Indonesia.

“I promise I will not re-offend again,” said Nur Maarif.

Meanwhile, Azwan also sought for lenient sentencing as he has a wife who is about to give birth soon and therefore it will be difficult to provide basic necessities for his dependants.

The Brunei Times