Trade fury as Customs staff sell on seized alcohol and tobacco

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Related tags: Cheap alcohol, Duty, Beer, Sales, British beer & pub association

The licensed trade is furious that Customs and Excise staff have been allegedly selling on cheap alcohol and cigarettes seized from passengers.The...

The licensed trade is furious that Customs and Excise staff have been allegedly selling on cheap alcohol and cigarettes seized from passengers.

The accusations came from the government's watchdog the Audit Commission, which said it had uncovered evidence that goods that should have been destroyed were siphoned off by staff and sold on the black market.

The huge rise in confiscated goods last year forced Customs to employ private companies to provide transportation and storage services. But no proper procedures were put in place to keep control over what happened to the goods as they moved through the chain.

As a result staff amended records to cover up how much tobacco, beer and wine had been confiscated.

Mark Hastings, spokesman for the British Beer & Pub Association, said this highlighted the need to make bootlegged alcohol less attractive. "It demonstrates the considerable problems with the sale of alcohol outside of the licensing system. The fact that we know that alcohol is frequently sold onto children is also a big issue.

"This clearly highlights the case for a duty cut which will increase the revenue for the government and reduce the incentive to sell on bootlegged booze."

This attack is the latest of a long line on customs. Last month latest figures showed that £1bn a year is lost in taxes to smugglers - amounting to costs of £12,000 a year for the average pub.

Related articles:

Smuggling cost hits £1bn a year (28 November 2002)

Related topics: Legislation

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