Christmas trade damaged by duty fraudsters

Duty fraud blighted what was otherwise a reasonable trading period over Christmas for wholesalers.

FWD director general John Murphy said some members were reporting that the problem with duty fraud was now as bad as the peak reached in early 2007, before a major initiative by the trade and HM Revenue Customs. He said that the problem was greatest with beer, although wines and spirits were also affected.

In the Emergency Budget last November HMRC acknowledged that there was a significant problem and said it was working to revise its approach before the next Budget. Murphy said the FWD was urging HMRC to tighten up its regulations, and their implementation, and to put more resources into catching the culprits. He said anyone aware of alcohol being sold at prices that could only be achieved through duty fraud should contact HMRC or FWD.

Rodney Hunt, managing director of Today’s Group, said results for the group had not been finalised but overall December “was not a bad month”.

However, he said alcohol sales had been caught in a “pincer movement” between duty fraud and massive discounting by the major multiples.

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