Customs to be monitored by watchdog

25 June, 2010

HM Revenue & Customs is to face continuing scrutiny from a government watchdog as it clamps down on duty cheats.

The Audit Commission is due to report on HMRC’s strategy on alcohol fraud this month and has said it will monitor the effectiveness of the campaign next year.

The announcement was welcomed by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, whose members have been alarmed at the amount of drawback fraud in the independent sector over the past year.

The fraud mainly involves rogue wholesalers who sell big-name lagers and wine brands at prices that undercut the mainstream market.

“It’s clear this subject is sufficiently important that it’s effectively pledging to do another audit next year,” said chief executive James Bielby.

The FWD has been campaigning for a new licensing system for wholesalers, which would create a register of operators known to be trading legitimately.

But HMRC has said the scheme would be unworkable, as it does not have the resources to set it up or to police it.




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Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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