Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Wednesday, 8 July 2009 13:36 UK

Car dealer 'is shocked by arrest'

The cigarettes were being brought in from the Far East
The cigarettes were being brought in from the Far East

A car dealer arrested and freed without charge after customs raids has denied any involvement in illegal cigarette smuggling or laundering assets.

Bob Mullan of Ballykelly said he was "shocked" by his arrest and said he had co-operated fully with the authorities.

In a statement through his solicitor, he said he strenuously denied any involvement in any fraudulent evasion of custom monies.

He was one of three people arrested in an operation on Tuesday.

One man is still in custody.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said the operation involved the manufacture and smuggling of cigarettes from the Far East into the UK and the Republic.

John Whiting, HMRC Assistant Director of Criminal Investigation, said the investigation had been ongoing for 18 months.

"Cigarettes have been smuggled from the Far East into the UK over a number of years and we have been seizing those cigarettes and trying to identify the perpetrators while this investigation has been going on," he said.

"Today we brought this operation to a conclusion by making two arrests in Northern Ireland and an arrest of an associate of this organisation based in Cambridgeshire."

HM Revenue and Customs said the raids were part of an international investigation into tax evasion and money laundering.

During the raids, officers seized documents, computers and mobile phones.

The Criminal Assets Bureau in the Republic was also involved, carrying out raids in Cork, Meath and Louth.



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