Illegal vodka factory busted near Liverpool
An illegal spirits factory found in an industrial unit in Aintree, producing what has been described as ‘potentially toxic vodka,’ has been shut down by HMRC officers.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) made the discovery yesterday (20 July) and is warning locals to stay away from the fake vodka, which is labelled as ‘No. 01 Imperial Vodka Blue.’
HMRC have now dismantled the bottling unit and removed the alcohol which is believed to be worth an estimated £45,000 in unpaid duty. The vodka has been sent to a laboratory for further tests.
Among the items seized by officers were 80 cases of vodka, each containing 12 one-litre bottles. HMRC removed a total of 1,965 litres of the counterfeit alcohol, of which 965 litres was already bottled.
Assistant director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, Angela McCalmon, commented: “Anyone drinking this fake vodka could be risking their life. People buying it may have thought they were getting a bargain, instead they’ve bought alcohol that may put them in hospital or worse.
“Counterfeit alcohol puts people in danger and denies taxpayers of millions of pounds in unpaid duty – money which should be spent on vital public services.
“We have alerted other law enforcement agencies such as the police, local trading standards, and the Foods Standards Agency to stop this product reaching shop shelves or into our communities. It is important that anyone with information about this dangerous illegal trade urgently reports it to our Hotline on 0800 788 887″.
No arrests have been made to date and investigations are ongoing. Officers are awaiting the results of the chemical analysis, however, they have revealed that tests on similar seizures in Widnes, Cheshire, in 2015 revealed that the liquid contained anti-freeze.
Since publication of HMRC’s previous anti-fraud strategy in 2010 to March 2016, it has seized 50 million litres of illicit alcohol with a duty value of £106 million and levied penalties of over £84 million. The losses that it has prevented by its enforcement have increased each year and exceeded £1.8 billion last year.
Anyone with information regarding fraud can contact the new HMRC Fraud hotline on 0800 788 887 or report it online here.