Two-year crackdown to halve fraud

01 June, 2007

Revenue & Customs has pledged to reduce the illicit market share for ­spir­its by "at least half" over the next two years.

In its 2007 annual report,

Customs said the "tax gap" for spirits in 2001-2 was estimated at

9 per cent, but its activities had reduced the tax gap for spirits to  between zero and

8 per cent during 2005 -6.

It admitted that "the downside to our success is that a far greater proportion of the alcohol fraudsters who continue to attack the revenue are now likely to be organised criminal gangs".

A three-pronged approach, including the introduction of duty stamps, enhanced operational activity and working closely with the industry, was making fraud increasingly unattractive,

Customs said.

It also said it would reduce the illicit market share for cigarettes to "no more than 13 per cent", by 2007-8. This target follows on from its previous pledge to reduce it to 17 per cent by 2006, although it has not yet published results for this period.

Since the introduction of the Tobacco Strategy in 2000, 348 gangs that were involved in large-scale smuggling of cigarettes and tobacco have been broken up and 2,487 people have been successfully sentenced 

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