Pair arrested on suspicion of role in £40m laundering plot in Romford raid

An HMRC investigator. Picture: HMRC

An HMRC investigator. Picture: HMRC - Credit: Archant

A man and a woman have been arrested in a dawn raid in Romford on the suspicion of playing a role in a £40million money laundering plot to disguise profits made in an alcohol scam.

The pair, both 47, were among a group of 14 detained by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) yesterday morning during a nationwide swoop.

Five lorry loads of beer and wine were seized in the raid as well as £650,000 cash.

Investigators from HMRC suspect the group were diverting non-duty paid alcohol and selling it on the UK market and estimate the fraud to have cost £40m in evaded duty and tax.

HMRC believe that the group arrested were involved in the laundering process.

The assistant director at HMRC’s criminal investigation unit, Alan Tully, said: “This is a major investigation into what we suspect is a well organised and professional attempt to launder the proceeds from a significant alcohol fraud and steal £40m from the UK economy.

“We are committed to stamping out alcohol fraud, which drains around £1billion from public finances each year, affecting public services and legitimate retailers who have to compete with the illicit market.”

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Investigators also seized computers, and personal and business records, during their searches.

The raid targeted 27 properties across London, Essex, Kent, Cardiff, Berkshire, West Midlands and Lancashire, and the group arrested are aged between 25 and 60.

HMRC is still investigating the plot and expect to decide today whether to charge or bail those arrested.

Anyone with information about individuals or groups involved in alcohol smuggling and tax evasion should contact the customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.

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