A Sydney man has had his gaol sentence for bribing Australian Customs Officers increased following a successful appeal by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).
On 4 September 2014, Bilal Afiouny, who had previously pleaded guilty to two counts of bribing a Commonwealth official, had his original total sentence of three years and three months, with non-parole period of one year eight months, increased to five years. Afiouny will now have to serve three years and six months before being eligible for parole, effectively doubling the minimum amount of time he will spend in gaol.
The CDPP appealed to the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal on several grounds, including the sentences imposed being manifestly inadequate. The prosecution noted that the original sentence did not adequately reflect the seriousness of offending especially considering Afiouny's actions had the potential to deprive the Commonwealth of at least $25.34 million in duty for the importation of the goods.
Writing the lead judgment for the Court of Criminal Appeal, Justice Garling agreed with the submission by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Robert Bromwich SC, stating that the ‘sentences which were imposed by the sentencing judge … do not reflect proper attention to the seriousness of the offending, nor to the important role of general and specific deterrence in the circumstances of this case. In the result, in my opinion, the sentences imposed are so lenient that they are offensive to the administration of justice and this court must intervene’.
The Court praised the honesty and integrity of the two Customs Officers whom Afiouny unsuccessfully tried to corrupt, noting that ‘but for the fact that the two customs officers with whom he engaged were decent, honest and law abiding officials who reported the approach immediately to their superiors, the pernicious nature of the offending may have gone undetected with a less than robust customs officer’.
Afiouny was arrested on 1 September 2011 following a covert controlled operation which began in June 2011 after he approached Australian Customs Officers in Indonesia. He pleaded guilty to paying bribes on five occasions totalling $170,000 and an additional two bribes totalling $200,000 to aid the importation of between 28.8 million and 31.8 million cigarettes and between 35,754 kilograms of loose leaf tobacco.
Read the full case report on the CDPP website: Case Report – Bilal Afiouny
The judgment is available on the New South Wales Caselaw website. See Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions v Afiouny  NSWCCA 176.
Media contact: Hausi Abdul-Karim (02 6206 5708)
Bilal Afiouny was charged with two counts of bribery of a Commonwealth official contract to sections 141.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for each offence is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $110,000.
About the CDPP
The Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) is an independent prosecution service established by Parliament to prosecute alleged offences against Commonwealth law. The CDPP aims to provide an effective, ethical, high quality and independent criminal prosecution service for Australia in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth.