Skip to main content

Counterfeit alcohol raises concern

Press Release   •   Jul 26, 2013 14:52 BST

Almost 2,500 litres of suspected illicit alcohol have been seized after the discovery of an alcohol bottling plant by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in Co Armagh yesterday.

Officers from HMRC and the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) searched an agricultural shed in the Crossmaglen area where they seized the alcohol along with counterfeit UK and Republic of Ireland duty stamps, counterfeit labels and 2,500 empty bottles. It is estimate the alcohol seized would have cost £26, 450 in lost duty and taxes.

In unrelated activity, HMRC and PSNI dismantled a diesel laundering plant after a search of a remote warehouse in the Mullaghbawn area. The illegal operation was capable of producing four million litres of illicit diesel a year, evading almost £2.6 million in taxes and duty. Officers removed 2.5 tonnes of toxic waste, 11,000 litres of suspected illicit fuel, a quantity of bleaching earth and a cattle truck with a concealed tank.

John Whiting, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation for HMRC, said:

“HMRC suspect that the alcohol seized was made using an industrial alcohol called methanol, which could potentially pose an enormous risk to anyone drinking it. With counterfeit alcohol, made in a shed, you really have no idea what you are buying. We are committed to stopping this criminal activity that costs the taxpayer around £1.2 billion in unpaid revenue each year.

“The only winners from counterfeit alcohol or fuel are the criminals. I would urge anyone with information on fuel or alcohol fraud in their area to contact our free telephone hotline 0800 59 5000 and contribute to the fight against this criminality.”

Investigations into both seizures are continuing.

Notes for editors

1.  Diesel laundering waste is often dumped indiscriminately in the countryside or next to the road with no care for the pollution it can cause to land or waterways. Typically the waste is dumped in agricultural areas or forests, chosen for their remoteness to avoid detection.

2.  Laundered fuel is red (or green) diesel, which has been filtered through chemicals or acids to remove the Government marker. The chemicals and acids remain in the fuel and damage fuel pumps in diesel cars.

3.  Photographs of the bottling plant and the laundering plant are available at HMRC’s Flickr channel www.flickr.com/hmrc.gov.uk

4.  Follow HMRC on Twitter at @hmrcgovuk

Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is the UK’s tax authority.

HMRC is responsible for making sure that the money is available to fund the UK’s public services and for helping families and individuals with targeted financial support.