Paul Begley, who avoided paying €1.6m in customs duties on more than 1,000 tonnes of garlic, has been sentenced to six years in prison by a judge at a criminal court in Dublin.
The boss of family distributor Begleys had balked at paying garlic import duties of up to 232 per cent, choosing instead to describe the produce as apples on importation documents.
Judge Martin Nolan decided to impose a lengthy prison sentence for the "huge" tax evasion scheme that would serve as a deterrent to others.
He said the import tax on garlic "may or may not" be too high, but that was for the government – not individuals – to decide.
The scam was uncovered by a customs and revenue investigation that revealed email exchanges between Begley and his Chinese supplier about falsifying the garlic's paperwork.