$2,900 fine for 109 packets of cigarettes

National 1 minute, 19 seconds

BELAIT

A SENIOR citizen was fined $2,900 yesterday after customs found 109 packets of untaxed cigarettes in his car parked outside a commercial centre in Kuala Belait earlier this month.

Sixty-five-year-old Permanent Resident Jamah Abu Ali pleaded guilty to the offence before the Kuala Belait Magistrate’s Court, claiming the cigarettes were for sale and for personal use.

Customs preventive officers approached Jamal’s Suzuki Vitara at 2.52pm on May 7 at Wisma Yakin to ask the defendant if he was selling cigarettes.

Jamal quickly admitted to owning the cigarettes, taking out a blue and white coloured cool box containing 22 packets of Era Premium and 12 packets of Era Black Menthol cigarettes.

Customs officers later found an additional 40 packets of Extreme mild menthol underneath the back passenger seat as well as 30 other packets stored inside the dashboard compartment and a separate back pack.

Jamal, who purchased the cigarettes from neighbouring Miri, was allowed to pay his fine by instalments after he told the presiding magistrate that he was relying on his old age pension of $250 and personal support from his wife to survive.

The defendant will pay the fine on a monthly instalments of $200 for 14 months, followed by a last monthly payment of $100. Failure to do so will result in four months imprisonment.

The total fine imposed yesterday is slightly more than six times the dutiable amount, which is the minimum penalty for possession of untaxed goods.

First time offenders can be fined up to 20 times the excise duty. Repeat offenders may also be liable to an imprisonment period of not longer than two years.

The Brunei Times