Tobacco seized in North West
AN operation to disrupt the sale and
supply of illegal tobacco across Greater Manchester and Merseyside uncovered
nearly 2 million cigarettes and more than 80 kilos of hand rolling tobacco, all
believed to be illicit.
Around 120 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from local
Council Trading Standards, Police, and British Gas, visited 82 retail premises
and 8 self storage units, on 28 June and 29 June 2017.
The visits, as part of HMRC's Tobacco Taskforce activity, led to suspected
illegal tobacco being seized and other potential offences being detected at 26
premises. This included:-
1,815,960 cigarettes, with an estimated ?453,241 duty and VAT evaded.
83.3 kilos of hand rolling tobacco, with an estimated ?21,343 duty and VAT
Sandra Smith, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:-
"The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner
agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown
on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around ?2.4 billion a year. By
combining intelligence and resources with other agencies we are able to disrupt
suspected criminal activity including, but not exclusively Tax evasion. These
offences undermine legitimate traders and we want to level the playing field for
all businesses. We encourage anyone with information about the illegal sale of
tobacco or alcohol to contact us on:- 0800 788 887."
In addition to the HMRC tobacco seizures:-
8 properties were targeted on suspicion of energy theft by British Gas' revenue
protection team, with more than ₤40,000 of energy thought to have been stolen
from 4 of the properties alone.
► A cannabis farm including 29 plants was dismantled in Liverpool.
1 van, being used to transport tobacco that was believed to be illicit, was
Each premises where a suspected offence was detected will now have the business
accounts audited and the owner and employees may be subject to personal
financial scrutiny by HMRC.
Andy Norman, Head of Customer Services Field Collections, British Gas, said:-
"Electricity and gas theft in homes and businesses is a serious issue, which
places lives at risk and adds unnecessary costs to customers' bills. This latest
joint operation proves, together, we can tackle energy theft more effectively.
I'd urge anyone who suspects cases of energy theft in homes and businesses in
their local community to call our British Gas tip off line on:- 0800 587 2737."