A criminal gang has been jailed for one of the biggest ever alcohol smuggling frauds uncovered in the UK.
The gang managed a warehouse to import and export alcohol without paying any money in tax. They bought household branded beer, wine and spirits from bonded warehouses in France and imported it duty free into the UK.
Once the alcohol was safely through customs it was illegally diverted to locations around the UK where it was sold on without duty being added.
The scam was worth over £50 million a year in unpaid duty and Vat to HM Revenue and Customs.The gang also reversed the fraud by appearing to send trucks to France loaded with non duty paid alcohol. The alcohol actually remained in the UK and was sold on, again with no tax added. To avoid detection, the gang sent empty trucks to the continent, several of which were intercepted by UKBA officers.
The fraud allowed the gang members to spend recklessly on high performance cars and luxury properties throughout Europe.
Martin Brown, Assistant Director of Criminal investigation, HM Revenue & Customs said: “This gang was interested in nothing further than lining their own pockets at the expense of honest taxpayers. HMRC will not stand by and let criminals rip off the law abiding public. We are committed to protecting public finances from attacks by organised crime, and the extra £917 million invested in HMRC will help us step up this fight. Crooks like this should beware: HMRC will find you, and you will have your day in court.”
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