Brothers jailed over £4.7m booze fraud

Two brothers from the UK midlands have been jailed after they were discovered trying to avoid paying more than £4.7 million in alcohol duty.

Cash seized by HM Revenue and Customs officers

Cash seized by HM Revenue and Customs officers

Brothers Peter and Gurjit Singh Kunoor, from Smethwick, and Amandeep Singh, from Corby, were caught after a lorry loaded with 2,000 litres of spirits, labelled for export from the UK, was stopped by HMRC officers.

The officers were watching an industrial unit in Lincolnshire and stopped the vehicle in October 2010 as it approached the unit. The bottles were labelled for export but the gang planned to sell the alcohol in the UK without paying any duty.

The officers then searched the brothers’ home and found more than 60 litres of spirits as well as £45,000 in cash. The search also revealed details of a second storage unit, which officers searched and found a further 6,761 litres of beer and 2,101 litres of wine, on which no duty had been paid. All the alcohol was seized.

Despite these findings and subsequently being under investigation Peter Singh Kunoor was stopped again by HMRC officers in December 2010, who found cases of whisky in his van which had the tax stamps scratched off.

HMRC’s Bob Gaiger said: “These men attempted to disguise their illegal activities by destroying the export duty stamps and adding counterfeit labels. They then tried to sell the alcohol in the UK without paying any duty. They acted purely out of greed to line their own pockets, with no regard for the consequences to honest traders.

“HMRC is committed to protecting public finances from attacks by criminals and will not stand by and let these crooks rip off the law abiding public. Anyone who suspects illegal alcohol is being stored or sold locally can help us by calling the Customs hotline on 0800 59 5000.”

Peter Singh Kunoor pleaded guilty to conspiracy to evade excise duty and was convicted after a trial at Birmingham Crown Court of possessing criminal property. The court jailed him for five years. Gurjit Singh Kunoor, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to evade excise duty and was handed an 18-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, Amandeep Singh pleaded guilty and was jailed for three years.

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