Rogers & Norton News

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Seizures of Goods by the Border Force

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

With the news that Border Force officials have foiled the biggest ever attempt to smuggle cigarettes into the UK, having uncovered more than 1.1 million cigarettes in Felixstowe, it is quite obvious that they are extremely serious in their desire to clamp down on fraud and minimise the loss of revenue. The cigarettes were allegedly discovered in a container marked formaldehyde resin and according to Border Force was an attempt to avoid paying duty on the imports. 

At the other end of the scale, in a drive to increase the profile on a local level, Norfolk Trading Standards have been joined by sniffer dogs on the streets of Kings Lynn to demonstrate how the specialist animals can find tobacco products. Tobacco can be bought substantially cheaper if no duty has been paid, making a huge profit for the perpetrators. Hundreds of thousands of illegal cigarettes have been seized and scores of premises inspections and searches have taken place in the past few years, in an attempt to minimise the losses..

There are many ways to defraud the exchequer of duty – for example, no VAT is charged when one company in an EU member state sells goods to another a company in another EU country. Items can then be resold charging VAT and when HMRC comes to reclaim the VAT, the company has vanished. The goods can be sold multiple times between a series of companies to confuse the authorities. This is known as carousel fraud and “Missing Trader- MTIC”

In their very important drive to stamp out this illegal activity there have been examples were innocent businesses have been held to account by Revenue & Customs, even though they had nothing to answer for.

Peter Hastings, Director at Rogers & Norton, who specialises in dealing with contentious issues that companies may have with HMRC commented ‘a substantial amount of money is lost to the Revenue each year through various illegal activities. There are examples though, where companies have goods seized when they have done nothing wrong. For example, we have secured the release of containers of ink cartridges, pharmaceutical goods, tobacco and alcohol when Border Force have no more than an unsupported suspicion that something is not right. A detention and seizure can cause a huge loss to a business and therefore it is imperative that businesses, importers and exporters act quickly when goods are detained and seized.’

Our HMRC team is currently on a number of issues including a seizure of tobacco valued at £1.2 million to the Revenue.

For more information please contact Peter Hastings on 01603 675639 or e-mail Peter Hastings