HMRC crackdown on duty fraud gathers pace

10 June, 2013

A crackdown on duty fraud has seen the amount of untaxed beer seized by officers almost double in the past four years.

In 2008-09 HMRC seized 5.78 million litres of beer but for the 2012-13 fiscal year this rose to 9.37 million litres.

The figures emerged in a Parliamentary question from shadow economic secretary Cathy Jamieson to economic secretary Sajid Javid.

British Beer and Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds praised HMRC for ramping up its war on fraud.

She said: “Brewers are working well with customs officials and we are always looking at ways of working more closely with HMRC, sharing information on the supply chain to help them crack down on the problem.

“Increased seizures with more effective and targeted action definitely show the benefits of this approach.”

HMRC highlighted its continuing assault on duty fraud by seizing more than £1 million worth of counterfeit alcohol and tobacco during raids in three Bristol suburbs on June 7.

Its officers joined police and sniffer dogs in raids on three off-licences and two homes.

Michael Reed, Principal Trading Standards Officer for Bristol City Council, who co-ordinated the operation said: “The raids followed carefully planned work jointly with the police and HMRC. We are pleased we have managed to remove so much fake and non-duty paid tobacco and alcohol. We will be seeking to bring prosecutions in relation to the seized tobacco and reviews of the premises licenses to sell alcohol.”

Assistant mayor Simon Cook added: “This highly successful operation demonstrates how effectively agencies work together to crackdown on the illicit tobacco industry which shows how black market tobacco flouts laws, the Treasury loses out on revenue, and, most importantly, health is being put even more at risk. Counterfeit tobacco has also been found to contain arsenic, rat droppings and far more tar and carbon monoxide than legal products.”

Meanwhile three men who tried to defraud the taxpayer to the tune of £4.7 million in an alcohol fraud have been jailed after an HMRC investigation.

Brothers Peter and Gurjit Singh Kunoor, from the West Midlands, and Amandeep Singh, from Northants, were caught after a lorry loaded with 2,000 litres of spirits, labelled for export from the UK, was seized by HMRC officers at an industrial estate in Lincolnshire.



During searches of the brothers’ home in Smethwick and a storage unit in Bilston, Wolverhampton, HMRC officers seized thousands of litres of illicit alcohol, cash and records.



HMRC’s Bob Gaiger said:

 “These men attempted to disguise their illegal activities by destroying the export duty stamps and adding counterfeit labels. They then tried to sell the alcohol in the UK without paying any duty. They acted purely out of greed to line their own pockets, with no regard for the consequences to honest traders.”




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