Organised crime linked to alcohol fraud

25 February, 2010

Organised crime is playing a “significant” role in alcohol fraud, a government minister has admitted.

Exchequer secretary Sarah McCarthy-Fry said that the government did not know exactly how much alcohol fraud could be attributed to organised criminal gangs.

But she added: “However, HMRC assessments of the threats to the alcohol regime suggest that organised criminality has become a significant element in the fraud.

“HMRC’s response, with other law enforcement agencies, is to target these criminals and the networks through which they operate to disrupt, dismantle, penalise and wherever possible prosecute those involved.”

She was responding to a written question from Labour MP Andrew Dismore, who also wanted to know how much money the government was spending on its alcohol fraud strategy.

McCarthy-Fry said the costs for 2008-09 were £22 million, and would rise to around £25 million in 2009-10.

“This reflects the introduction of new enforcement capabilities, such as specialist teams to carry out civil investigations of fraud, and the establishment of a dedicated inland detection force,” she said.

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