�50m alcohol smuggling scam operated from Upminster

One of the country’s biggest ever alcohol smuggling scams operated from a warehouse in Upminster.

A gang were part of a scam worth �50m a year in unpaid duty and VAT and resulted in the members spending money on high performance cars and luxury properties throughout Europe.

Gang ringleader Kevin Burrage, 49, from Shoeburyness, owned Prompstock Ltd, a warehouse in Upminster.

His brother-in-law Gary Clark, 55, from Thorpe Bay, managed the warehouse, which they used to import and export alcohol without paying tax.

They brought household branded beer, wine and spirits from warehouses in France and imported it duty free into the UK. It was destined for Prompstock, but once through customs, was illegally diverted around the UK, where it was sold without duty added.

The gang also reversed the fraud by appearing to send trucks to France with non-duty paid alcohol, but the alcohol actually stayed in the UK and was sold on with no tax added. The empty trucks were intercepted by UK Border Agency officers and they were arrested after raids by HM Revenue and Customs in November 2008. Also in the gang were Michael Turner, of Folkestone, owner of Keytrades (Europe) Ltd, which provided a cover for movements of the alcohol, and Davinder Singh Dhaliwal, 32, of Dartford, who was his right-hand man and organised the delivery of large quantities of alcohol ready for distribution.

Burrage was jailed for 10 years and disqualified from being a company director for 12 years after he was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue on Friday at Canterbury Crown Court.

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Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to cheating the public revenue and fraudulent evasion of excise and duty. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Clark was found also found guilty of the same offence and sentenced to six years and nine months in prison.

Meanwhile Turner pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to cheating the public revenue and fraudulent evasion of excise duty and was sentenced to three years and two months in prison.

Martin Brown, assistant director of criminal investigation for HM Revenue and Customs, said after the hearing: “Crooks like this should beware HMRC will find you, and you will have your day in court.”