New warning on counterfeit sales

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licence reviews, Duty, Hmrc, Hm revenue & customs

Police: targeting illicit alcohol with HMRC
Police: targeting illicit alcohol with HMRC
Pubs have been given a fresh warning about the dangers of selling smuggled alcohol after 11 shops had their licences revoked or suspended en masse...

Pubs have been given a fresh warning about the dangers of selling smuggled alcohol after 11 shops had their licences revoked or suspended en masse for the offence.

HM Revenue & Customs is working with local trading standards and police to force licence reviews at premises that are selling alcohol where duty and VAT has not been paid.

Last month the Morning Advertiser reported that a pub in Camperdown, North Tyneside had its licence revoked after being found to be selling vodka and wine without paying duty.

The Grey Horse Inn was targeted by police who confiscated 77 litres of Aros Italian vodka and 72 litres of Italian wine.

Eleven off-licences and convenience stores in the Thanet area of Kent faced licence reviews over the past couple of weeks for the offence.

Four of the premises have now had their licences revoked and seven had theirs suspended for 14 or 21 days.

Breaches of section 144 of the Licensing Act, which relates to sales of smuggled goods, were cited.

In some cases, tax evasion was given as a reason, as well as the sale of counterfeit goods and spirits that included forged "duty paid" labels.

Morning Advertiser legal editor Peter Coulson said: "HMRC has begun to target licensed premises in several parts of the country recently through the review process.

"Although they are not responsible authorities themselves, they are linking with trading standards or the police to bring review proceedings leading to suspension of the licence or in serious cases revocation when contraband or non-duty paid goods are found."

"Licensees should be warned that dealing with suspect alcohol in this way can lead to the loss of the licence."

Last month 20 men were arrested and bailed in an estimated £50m excise duty and VAT fraud linked to the abuse of the international bonded warehouse system.

It is suspected that alcohol, bought duty-free and said to be destined for markets in the European Union, was smuggled into the UK without paying excise duty and VAT.

The men were arrested by HMRC criminal investigators during raids on 12 commercial and 17 domestic premises across the South East and the Midlands.

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