How many big-time criminals do you imagine would buy a small shop simply in order to launder their ill-gotten gains through a cash and carry? Not very many would be the right answer – most would probably opt to buy a luxury yacht for cash in Spain. But much of our industry has to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations in the same way as the banks and the financial services industry.
This is because some wholesalers are classed as High Value Dealers (HVDs), namely businesses that deal in goods and accept (or are prepared to accept) in cash the equivalent of e15,000 or more (approximately pound;10,000) for any single transaction. The regulations require money services businesses and HVDs to register with HM Revenue and Customs. (HMRC).
They must also pay an annual fee based on the number of premises they trade through, report changes during the registration year and put anti-money laundering systems in place so that they can identify and prevent money laundering and report any suspicious transactions.
Although grocery wholesaling is patently a low risk area, these systems have to be robust because the legislation creates serious criminal offences. The sentences that can be imposed either on a company or individuals upon conviction include unlimited fines and lengthy periods of imprisonment.
FWD recently held a seminar for member companies to discuss how they comply with this law and to seek a consensus in relation to process and procedure. The meeting, held in Northamptonshire in late June, threw up some interesting examples of what appears to be uneven enforcement by HMRC in different parts of the country. The Federation is now in the process of getting more detail on this before making a high-level approach to HMRC.
On a lighter note, my newspaper informed me that well-heeled foodies in London have been enjoying the ‘ pound;85 sandwich’ since Selfridges launched it in April.
Some 200 have already been sold and what you get between the bread for this eye-watering sum is a filling of wagyu beef, lobe foie gras and black truffle mayonnaise. It will be interesting to see if Ewan Venters, Selfridges director of food and catering, tells us the profit margin on his super-sarni when he addresses delegates at our Catersummit 06 conference on October 3 in Kenilworth.
Ewan is one of another top line-up of speakers at this unique event. Make a point of being there (see page 31).