FWD warning about return of duty fraud

Duty fraud on a significant scale has returned to the UK within the past few weeks, robbing wholesalers of business at one of the busiest times of the year.

Some wholesalers in London have reported unexpected falls in sales of beer and wine and investigations have found brands being offered for sale to retailers at prices that could not be achieved legally.

Major victories had been achieved last year in the fight against duty fraud with brewers and the wine producers working with the authorities and FWD members to cut off supplies to illicit sources, and wholesalers had subsequently seen significant sales increases in beer and wine. However, FWD director general John Murphy said the problem had flared up again in the past 10 weeks with some wholesalers losing significant sales. He said the FWD had immediately raised the issue with HM Revenue and Customs, and with the trade, and he hoped action could be taken swiftly to stamp out the illegal activity.

He said: “It is not as catastrophic as before but it is definitely a resurgence.”

Today’s managing director Rodney Hunt, who has been one of the driving forces in the campaign against duty fraud since his time as FWD chairman, said some members in London had first encountered the problem. However he said it appeared to be in “pockets” because other Today’s members in London had not been affected.

Further north, Steve Parfett, managing director of Parfett’s Cash Carry, said his company had been offered beer and wine at prices that could not have been achieved legally.

l See director general’s review page 8

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