The owner of an Essex bonded warehouse has been jailed for 10 years for leading a £50 million alcohol and VAT fraud.

Kevin Burrage, 49, of Ravendale Way, Shoeburyness, owned Promptstock, the declared destination for branded beer, wines and spirits bought from bonded warehouses in France and imported duty-free into the UK.

Once through UK customs the alcohol was illegally diverted to locations around the UK where it was sold on without duty being added.

The gang also committed fraud by appearing to send trucks loaded with stocks of non duty-paid alcohol to France, but which remained in the UK to be sold on without tax being added.

Empty trucks were sent to the continent in an effort to fool Border Agency officials.

Burrage was found guilty of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue and disqualified from being a director for 12 years, in addition to his prison sentence.

Promptstock manager Gary Clark, of Maplin Way North, Southend, was
sentenced to six years and nine months in jail.

Michael Turner, of Rendezvous Street, Folkestone, Kent, received a three year and two month sentence after admitting to cheating the public revenue and fraudulent evasion of excise duty at an earlier hearing.

Davinder Dhaliwal, of Langdale Gardens, Dartford, Kent, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was jailed for
16 months.

The court heard that the profits from the scam were used to buy luxury cars and properties across Europe.

Martin Brown, assistant director of criminal investigation at HM Revenue & Customs, said: “This gang was interested in nothing further than lining their own pockets at the expense of taxpayers.”