The Federation of Wholesale Distributors has warned retailers of the dangers of dealing with unknown suppliers of alcoholic products, following HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)’s announcement that several stores in Lincolnshire could lose their alcohol licence after suspected counterfeit goods were found on their premises.
Eight retail premises in Boston were raided on March 4 and 88 litres of alcohol were seized, the majority of it vodka which is believed to be fake. HMRC said a number of retail outlets may now lose their alcohol licence. A Lincolnshire Police spokesman said: “We will ensure those premises supplying these types of goods will be placed in front of the Local Authority Licensing Committee with the request that their licence to sell alcohol is revoked.”
FWD chief executive James Bielby said: “It’s vitally important that retailers appreciate just how seriously HMRC is taking this issue, and that local authorities have the power to take away their licence if they stock counterfeit goods. It’s simple enough to protect yourself against this, by only buying from trusted sources and always being suspicious of very low-priced offers. Retailers know when an offer is significantly below market price, and should not expect to be able to defend themselves by saying they did not know the goods were illicit.”
Stuart Crookshank, assistant director for HMRC, said the agency was determined to crack the problem of excise fraud. “Low cost tobacco and alcohol products can often seem very attractive to local people, lured into purchasing them at what seem like bargain prices,” he said. “However, the truth is these goods have been smuggled and these sales are unlicensed and unregulated. Those involved are not concerned if they are selling to children and underage young people and the illicit trade has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers and the local community.”