Wellsford man Ross Ferguson, 64, has been convicted and fined $1500 for unlawfully manufacturing tobacco along with Motueka man Reginald Jury.
Customs said Ferguson drove from Wellsford to Motueka, near Nelson, and bought the tobacco from Jury. He loaded the tobacco on to his trailer returning to Wellsford where he began manufacture.
Jury was sentenced and fined $6000 in Auckland District Court on Monday relating to the unlawful manufacture of tobacco.
He was charged with being a party to the unlawful manufacturing of tobacco in breach of the Customs and Excise Act 1996.
In May 2010, a search warrant was executed at Jury’s address in Motueka.
Customs officers found 4790kg of tobacco leaf which, at the time, represented just under $2 million dollars in revenue had it been manufactured.
Customs manager Shane Panettiere said the outcome of the trial was a real achievement for Customs and the officers.
“There are rules around manufacturing tobacco and Mr Jury grew, harvested, flue-cured and sold the tobacco knowing that those rules would not be followed.”
In 2007, Jury was convicted for the unlawful manufacture of tobacco as a result of a previous Customs investigation.
There are requirements for manufacturing tobacco in New Zealand – the premises must be licensed as a Customs-controlled area, the tobacco produced is liable for excise duty and manufacturers must assist Customs on matters of audit and review.
Section 68A of the Customs and Excise Act allows people aged over 18 to manufacture up to 15kg tobacco annually exclusively for their own use, providing they grow the tobacco at their place of residence.