Brothers Peter and Gurjit Singh Kunoor, of the West Midlands, and Amandeep Singh, of Northants, were caught after a lorry loaded with 2,000 litres of spirits, labelled for export from the UK, was uncovered at an industrial estate in Lincolnshire following an HMRC investigation.
The bottles were labelled for sale abroad but the gang planned to sell the alcohol in the UK without paying any duty, the HMRC said.
Officers also seized thousands of litres of illicit alcohol, cash and records during searches of the brothers’ home in Smethwick and a storage unit in Bilston, Wolverhampton. They discovered a £45,000 in cash hidden in carrier bags in a bedroom in the Kunoor home in Smethwick, along with over 60 litres of spirits. Documents were also found relating to a storage unit in Bilston, where officers seized a further 6,761 litres of beer and 2,101 litres of wine, on which no duty had been paid. All the alcohol was seized.
In addition, officers found cases of whisky with counterfeit labels and the tax stamps scratched off when a van driven by Peter Singh Kunoor was stopped on the Grove Road, Birmingham, in December 2010.
No legitimate invoices were provided for any of the seized alcohol.
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. HMRC is committed to protecting public finances from attacks by criminals and will not stand by and let these crooks rip off the law abiding public.”
Peter Singh Kunoor was charged on two counts - conspiracy to evade excise duty and possession of criminal property . He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for count one and 18 months imprisonment for count two, both to run concurrently.
His brother Gurjit Singh Kunoor was charged with one count of conspiracy to evade excise duty and handed an 18 month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Amandeep Singh, Peter Singh Kunoor’s brother-in-law, of Warkton Way, Corby, Northants was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud excise duty and sentenced to three years in jail. He will serve half the sentence, after which time he will be liable to deportation.