Last week, the Tax and Customs Board discovered an illegal shipment of 8.5 million Marlboro- and LM-branded cigarettes in a Chinese cargo container transiting through Estonia en route to Moscow.
The cigarettes not only lacked the required tax stamps, they were also not declared on the container's shipping documents. Customs officials said they have not yet determined whether the cigarettes are genuine or counterfeit.
Kadri Tamm, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor’s Office, told uudised.err.ee that according to its paperwork the container held rolls of plastic sheeting. Inspection revealed, however, only two stacks of the declared goods.
"It is very likely that the end market of those cigarettes would have been a country in Europe, for instance Great Britain," said prosecutor Helga Adamsoo.
In Estonia the value of the cigarettes would have been 1.32 million euros, while in the United Kingdom it would have reached 3.47 million euros, the Tax and Customs Board said in a statement.
Jaan Riima, head of the board's Investigation Department, said that the cigarettes were discovered thanks to cooperation with the German customs office and the Phillip Morris tobacco company.
The Prosecutors’ Office has launched a criminal investigation into the matter. So far, however, no one has been charged.