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Smuggling gang jailed for £50m tax and VAT fraud.

17 february 2012

A criminal gang has been jailed for one of the biggest alcohol smuggling frauds ever uncovered in the UK. The scam was worth £50m a year in unpaid duty and VAT and allowed the gang members to spend recklessly on high performance cars and luxury properties throughout Europe.

Gang ringleader Kevin Burrage, 49, owned Promptstock Ltd, a bonded warehouse in Essex. His brother-in-law, Gary Clark, 55, managed the warehouse which the pair used to import and export alcohol without paying a penny in tax.

The gang bought household branded beer, wine and spirits from bonded warehouses in France and imported it duty free into the UK, destined for Promptstock. Once safely through customs, the alcohol was illegally diverted to locations around the UK where it was sold on without duty being added.

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 United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) officers.

Following a covert surveillance operation, the gang was arrested in a series of dawn raids by HMRC officers in November 2008.

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.”

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