HMRC uncovers fake vodka bottling factoryBy Melita Kiely
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has discovered an illegal UK factory bottling “potentially toxic” vodka and evading an estimated £45,000 (US$58k) in unpaid tax.
HMRC uncovered the illegal site yesterday (20 July) and has issued warnings to local retailers and members of the public over the “dangerous” fake vodka, which was labelled as No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue.
During the raid, HMRC officers seized a 1,000-litre drum filled with suspected fake alcohol; counterfeit vodka labels for No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue; bottling machinery, bottle tops and other labelling paraphernalia; 80 cases of unmarked brown boxes, each containing 12 one-litre bottles of No 01 Imperial Vodka Blue; and a total of 1,965 litres of suspected alcohol, with 965 litres in finished labelled bottles. The liquid has been sent for chemical testing.
Angela McCalmon, assistant director, fraud investigation service, HMRC, said: “Anyone drinking this fake vodka could be risking their life. People buying it may have thought there 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.”
Law enforcement agencies including the police, local trading standards, and the Food Standards Agency have been contacted to help stop the fake bottles reaching retailers.
Anyone with information about the fake vodka bottles is urged to report it to the HMRC hotline on 0800 788 887.