Top Irish food producer jailed for garlic tax scam

AP News

3/9/2012 12:46:59 PM - AP News

One of Ireland's top food producers has been found guilty of dodging taxes on more than 1,000 tons of imported Chinese garlic and sent to prison.

Paul Begley admitted running a scam from 2003 to 2007 in which he instructed his Chinese suppliers to produce false export invoices labeling garlic as apples. Irish import duties on apples are just 9 percent but on garlic up to 232 percent.

The fraud allowed Begley to avoid euro1.4 million ($1.8 million) in tax. He has been trying to repay the sum since Dublin Port customs officers discovered the deception in 2007 but still owes euro700,000 ($923,000).

A Dublin judge sentenced Begley to six years in prison Friday.

Begley Brothers Ltd. employs 150 people in growing, importing and distributing fruit and vegetables across Ireland.