Importer Gets Six Years for Garlic Smuggling

Who’d have thought that garlic was such a big deal?

Last Friday, Paul Begley, a vegetable importer got six years in jail for evading €1.6 million in import tax due on Chinese garlic, by re-labelling it as apples.  It seemed very harsh, with even the trial judge saying that it gave him no joy at all to jail a decent man but Begley had, after all, deprived the public finances of a huge amount of money.

Why did he mislabel the garlic as apples?   Simple.  Chinese garlic is taxed at 232% compared to 9% for other fruit and vegetables.  What’s more, this penal rate of tax is not an Irish thing, but an EU regulation.

Why?  At first, I was baffled.  Could it be that a secret cabal of vampires is running the European Union?

That looked like a promising line of inquiry until I checked out the tax on sharpened stakes, holy water and crucifixes but no.  Stakes and crucifixes are taxed at the normal rates, while holy water is free, so it couldn’t be a vampire-protection measure, even though a secret cabal of vampires really is running the European Union.

What is it then?  Well, a quick Google search will tell you that we’re not the only ones trying to crush the Chinese garlic trade.

Look —

EUROPA – Press Releases – Chinese garlic smugglers intercepted
EUROPA – Press Releases – Smuggled garlic intercepted in Poland
Swedish Customs targets EU garlic smugglers
Imported garlic smuggled to India straining forex reserve
The Garlic Price Rockets in Europe and Chinese Garlic Is Smuggled

It turns out that the very high tax on Chinese garlic is a trade barrier to prevent European workers and producers losing their livelihoods as a result of predatory trading.

What’s actually happening is that Chinese producers are growing garlic using subsistence labour, with no regard to environmental concerns or any sort of worker safety.  Farmers in Europe,  who have to comply with regulations, can’t compete and are going out of business thanks to the flooding of the market by the cheaply-produced bulb.  The Chinese are distributing their garlic worldwide using local importers like Mr Begley, who are happy enough to disregard the consequences for European workers, presumably because they can make healthy profits.

It’s strange how feelings  can swing.  At the start, I was bemused and baffled at the treatment of an honest businessman, but by the time I had finished reading the back story, I found myself with little or no sympathy for Mr Begley who, it turns out, is just another scammer looking for a fast buck.



21 replies on “Importer Gets Six Years for Garlic Smuggling”

Perhaps our mayor could have a work with the Chinese?

Jokes aside, the lack of consistancy in the Irish courts is worrying. 6 yeras for garlic vat fraud, run a bank into the ground and cost the tax payer €bns, no charge. Lie to a tribunal about winning money on the horses, no charge. Spend €50k on ink cartridges, no charge. Claim spurious expenses from the government grt caught, pay them back, no charge. Lie in court (especially as a cabinet minister), no charge.

Perhaps our mayor could have a word with the Chinese?

Jokes aside, the lack of consistancy in the Irish courts is worrying. 6 yeras for garlic vat fraud, run a bank into the ground and cost the tax payer €bns, no charge. Lie to a tribunal about winning money on the horses, no charge. Spend €50k on ink cartridges, no charge. Claim spurious expenses from the government grt caught, pay them back, no charge. Lie in court (especially as a cabinet minister), no charge.

On the other hand, Chinese garlic farmers have been reduced to subsistence levels (losing money on each sale, in fact) because of industry hoarding and U.S. volume trading in the futures market, a practice outlawed in the onion business 100 years ago.

Blame Wall Street!


Bock, I take your point with regard to him being a scammer and it’s something I wouldn’t condone by any means. What I have a big problem with is that this man has been given six years and the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick and Fingleton are walking about giving us all the two fingers! To me that’s just plain fucking wrong!!

While I in no way suggest such a level of defrauding the Revenue could go unpunished, I am struggling to comprehend what appears to me incredible inconsistency in the sentences handed down by Judge Martin Nolan.

Only recently, the pedophile defrocked priest Oliver O’Grady was sentenced to 3 years by that same Judge.
O’Gradys laptop was found to contain 280,000 images of child pornography, 1,000 video files of same and 500 pages of online discussion on that subject.

O’Grady had been sentenced to 14 yrs in prison in California for abusing hundreds of children, He is the subject of a film titled ” Deliver us from Evil ” in which he was described as ” The Hannible Lecter of the Clerical world ” .

During his trial in front of Judge Nolan his SC described him as ” a socially isolated man ”

This is not the only inconsistency, so VAT fraud carries a higher penalty than the possession of child pornography ?

Paul Begley was repaying the Revenue at 33,000 per month and employing 100 people and he gets twice the sentence of a convicted pedophile.

Correction to above comment, There was no ” defrauding Revenue ” in Ireland, as apparently, Import duty goes back to the EU, that in turn generates subsidies for EU farmers.

The courts are compromised by that ruling because it was wholly politically motivated. The judge should step down and the criminal released.
Simple shit 101.

Angela’s and Sarkozy’s puppet masters control far more than is being put to the public to view and scrutinize.

Dirty money all the way.

If you rob a hundred euro of clothes from dunnes or pennys , you get 3 months,if you rob a bank of 1.6 million you get about 6 years, if you murder someone you serve about 12 years,[thats a “life”sentence ?
If you rob the state of 1.6 million, the judge calls you a decent man,cannot figure that one out.
To my mind a sentence that befits the crime [iv not seen the word crime in any report of the case.
in any event its 4 years, perhaps 2 on appeal,perhaps a slap on the wrist.
in any event its about time the law reacts against “white collar crime”,,for far too long its been tolerated..

Norma, if he was paying the revenue at that rate, then assuming that interest & penalties are added, I’d have left it at that. Murderers and others who are a danger to society are getting off lightly because of a lack of prison spaces, and we are sending businessmen who to jail, crazy. Hit him where it hurts, in his pocket, and keep the prison spaces for those who are a danger.

BTW, I saw last week some other guy, Hugh Maguire, with huge amounts of kiddie porn on his computer get off very lightly. The Judge, possiblt the same one, said he was lonely! You have to wonder sometimes.

Essodee. He had reduced his debt from 1.6 million to 700,000 Euro, he pleaded guilty but in light of the extraordinary amount of ” light ” sentencing and suspended sentences handed down by Judge Nolan, for very dangerous and criminal offences, it is my belief that this sentence is very counter productive. If Paul Begley had been placed on some kind of Community based service, even over a period of several years that may have been of some benefit but to lock him up for 6 years at an approximate cost of 600,000 to the taxpayer for the duration makes no sense at all.

As all import duty goes directly to the EU, this sentence looks to me to be very politically motivated.

Why do people think that hitting a wealthy person where it hurts (the wallet) is a better deterrent than prison. It simply is not. The loss of liberty for this criminal and make no mistake that is what he is, will act as a detterent to all like minded businessmen who assume that the law and prison is only for the poor. He is a fcuking criminal and he is where criminals belong. The fact that he ran a business and employed people makes this case even worse in that it was motivated by greed. Add to that the fact that he cajoled the exporter in China to break their export laws by altering legal export documents makes it worse again. People worried about how much his term inside is costing the taxpayer make me laugh, they overlook the 1.6m he cost the taxpayer and that does not include the cost of the trial. Grow up people he broke the law becuase of his greed and is now paying the price for his crime.

XLR8, calm down. People aren’t excusing crime they are merely comparing the sentence of 6 years for this crime against the total lack charges against corrupt bankers and poiticians which have brought this country to its knees. When a priest with thousands of childporn images is tried by the samr judge and gets a lesser sentence it’s bound to raise questions.

I am perfectly calm No.8. I just do not get the comparisons. They are different crimes and an example is being made out of Begley to deter others. No banker has yet been charged with anything and yet at every opportunity they are held up as examples to defend this criminal. When they are charged we should compare sentences. Till then we might as well say ” football player gets red card and yet Begely gets 6 years.

Hi all, seems to me the harshness of this sentence is motivated by the perceived loss of revenue, as opposed to justice.
The artificially high rate of duty applied to Garlic, as a trade barrier to prevent EU farmers who cannot compete on price, going out of business, is something I’m not sure I buy. Do these farmers produce only Garlic? Exactly what percentage of their trade is Garlic? It is sound business sense, (whatever your business), not to attempt to compete in areas where you cannot succeed.
Should your concern be the exploitation of Chinese farmers, then don’t buy their Garlic! (Echoes of the Dunnes Stores, South African Oranges).They will then grow something else. What you don’t do, is grossly inflate import duties, because this creates trade conditions conducive to smuggling, as is proved in this case. Unlike Tea or Coffee, which require very specific growing conditions, Garlic does not, you can easily grow it at home! In fact two square metres, enables me to grow enough to see me through a year.
And as an afterthought,
Begley’s sentence, was the same as handed down to the convicted killer Claire Nolan, who’s case is discussed elsewhere on this site, yes, she got an extra two years,…. but suspended.

Bob Smith, i completely agree with you. I wonder if Claire Nolan was male, would he have the book thrown at him? Or similarly, if Paul was “Paula” Begley, might she have been deemed a misfortunate vulnerable woman lowered to criminal activities to feed her starving babies?

@No.8 it took five years to bring the garlic fraud case to court considering the offences date back to 07 and I firmly believe that any fraud uncovered during investigations into the banks will also result in charges. When a banker is charged and sentenced we should make comparisons then not now.

@XLR8. Hello, I doubt we will see any prosecutions, Money is power, Governments hold these people in awe, with an eye to their own survival. But, just because there are no prosecutions, that does not mean there is no guilt. We make comparisons on what we perceive to be just. I reserve the right to make that comparison, should I so choose. This guy Begley has been hung out to dry. I do not believe he was handed a just sentence, but the establishment is like this where money is concerned. You’d get less for raping, beating and buggering children.

The composite truth here is the crime. That crime was driven by greed. The consequences were overlooked, as in all crimes of greed. A simple question to be asked here in all honesty, has the criminal begley done anything like this before? Or even, how often has he gotten away with similar scams in the past?

He is/was a greedy ” businessman/criminal “, however much a decent man as described by the judge. It will not be the first time, nor the last, that a judge has been conflicted in his views.

Begley is a convicted criminal now, he will probably serve up to 4 years for his crime. Whether he has learned anything from it remains to be see.

One important thing to remember is that the price of garlic has little or nothing to do with the crime/scam. The actual forging of documents to avoid payingtax/duty was/is the issue, now resolved by the courts. 6 years for fraud.

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