Havering men part of mass arrest for huge alcohol tax scam

TWENTY men, including three from Havering, have been arrested in an estimated �50m tax fraud on alcohol imports.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) criminal investigators officers launched co-ordinated raids on 12 commercial and 17 domestic premises across the South East and the Midlands on Tuesday morning, December 7.

Searches were also undertaken in Germany.

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

Bob Gaiger, HMRC spokesman, said: “HMRC criminal investigators have uncovered a suspected multi-million pound excise duty and VAT fraud.

“Over 200 HMRC officers, supported by the police, took part in the operation. The operation spanned a number of counties and led to the arrest of twenty people. Our investigations are continuing.”

The 20 men arrested and interviewed by HMRC officers have been released on bail until June next year, pending further enquiries.

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The arrests took place in:

• Loughton, Essex – four arrests

• Bromley, Kent – one arrest

• Ilford, east London – one arrest

• Romford – two arrests

• Farnham, Surrey – one arrest

• Hove, Sussex – one arrest

• Rochford, Essex – one arrest

• Reading, Berkshire – one arrest

• Brighton, Sussex – one arrest

• Enfield, Hertfordshire – one arrest

• Barking, east London – one arrest

• Hornchurch – one arrest

• Birmingham – one arrest

• London, E6 – one arrest

• London, E17 – one arrest

• Hainault, east London – one arrest