HMRC Is Shite

HMRC Is Shite
Dedicated to the taxpayers of Britain, and the employees of Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), who have to endure the monumental shambles that is HMRC.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Fag Smuggling

Around mid November HMRC fined British American Tobacco (BAT) £650,000 for oversupplying its products (fags) to Belgium.

Apparently this is the first time that HMRC has imposed a penalty on a firm for supplying to areas that are a "high risk" for smuggling. Cigarettes are significantly cheaper in Belgium, compared with retail prices in the UK, because of lower taxes. Thus, in HMRC's view, there is a risk that the cheap fags will be "re-imported" (smuggled) back into the UK (doubtless via Dover - either in a small boat or on ferry).

It is an interesting fine, given that BAT is not in the business of smuggling and is not paid to act as a law enforcement agency. However, an 8 year old amendment to the Tobacco Products Duties Act of 1979 entitles HMRC to impose a fine if a manufacturer is deemed to have failed in its duty not to facilitate smuggling. The maximum penalty is £5m.

Unsurprisingly, BAT said it was appealing against the "unjustified" fine.

The company was quoted by the BBC:
"We are a business not a law enforcement agency".
This is the first time a fine of this nature has been handed out by HMRC.

HMRC said at the time:
"The supply-chain legislation enables HMRC to work with industry to restrict the volume of genuine products available to smugglers.

Sanctions are a last resort and only applied where there is evidence that a manufacturer is failing to comply with its legal obligations."
By happenstance there have been a number of comments on this site recently touching on the issue of cigarette smuggling, and the possibility that some confiscated cigarettes have found their way back into the market place (Dover's pubs and corner shops etc) thanks to "security issues" within the warehouse in which the confiscated fags are stored (eg this thread).

I confess to knowing very little about the procedures relating to confiscated fags etc. However, a cursory glance on the net indicates that HMRC has a list of organisations that act as Customs agents and that there are organisations (eg Smartwater) that can provide "chemical tracers" that will identify items (such as cigarettes) that have illegally re emerged into the market from a secure warehouse.

I assume, if cigarettes have illegally re entered the market, there will be sufficient CCTV footage from the warehouse to identify those who took them. I also assume that those responsible will be apprehended and brought to trial.

Tax does have to be taxing.

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    Anonymous30 November 2014 15:38

    Its stock losses from HMRC secure warehouses Tiger want to be looking at. let them go into the Dover pubs and see the cheap cigarettes that are to be had. check out the corners shops selling ex HMRC seized stock! Carry out income v expense audits on some of our own 'pillars of the community'

    Anonymous30 November 2014 18:36

    Dover pubs and corner shops sell smuggled goods and have done so for decades. It's something to do with the ease of abusing repetitive travel?
    How many times can you cross the channel as a 'footie' in 24 hrs ffs!?
    'Hire' some 'mules' @ £50/day tax free and see how much you can make
    sticking to maybe hand rolling.

    Then there are the ferry crews, white van man, you only have to watch the
    bloody car parks at the front of the terminal or the mini-buses trolling up to
    the car parks that overlook the port.

    It's no good alleging theft of goods out of warehouse without any proof. Seized goods in warehouses look no different to goods that are smuggled but not seized. It's only the outer cases that are marked, if at all. Counterfeit goods will look the same as the real thing to most people.
    White cigarettes are just that, no marks?

    Tiger Aspect are not going to roar at speculation and certainly won't chase shadows.

    Where's the proof?

    However I do accept that organised crime can steal it's own seized goods
    back, they have done so previously.

    Anonymous30 November 2014 19:33

    camera footage with HMRC staff CLEARLY IDENTIFIABLE loading said goods into private cars / vans WITH registrations CLEARLY IDENTIFIABLE should be enough, BUT goods also marked with SMART WATER and traced to end users that'll do it, don't you think?
    S.D. Cards with everything I have is on its way..... and yes I've kept copies.

    Anonymous30 November 2014 21:47

    I will assume that you have done more than keep copies to protect yourself? Remember, these are the tw@ts that used some hefty surveillance on Osita Mba and his wife on a previous justifiable whistle blow.

    Smartwater is irrefutable proof due to its unique characteristics, combined with identifiable images and subsequent effective independant law enforcement work this may well be a game changer.

    Of course, all sides will now be aware and may be taking protective measures. Keep ones transom covered and your powder dry. But I guess you already

    Anonymous1 December 2014 09:44

    I wouldn't be doing this unless I was bullet proof AND had a FEW aces up my sleeve. WHEN they start getting shitty it'll be time told 'play those aces', one at a time until THEY fold!! We'll see how high they want the shit to flow before they call it a day and do the honourable thing. Spent the best part of 3 years on this, it'll be worth every minute.

    Anonymous1 December 2014 10:07

    Look forward to shtf. My attempts stalled at PAC, NAO level, with their awareness but no desire to investigate. MP had supported to that point but then baulked at request to refer to IPCC. Possibility of downward pressure having been applied given the estimates of taxpayers money wasted, not in public interest etc?

  2. Hmm, BAT, supply of cigarettes to areas that are high risk for smuggling, fined?
    Not sure I understand why though.
    What about selling to places like Andorra, Gibraltar, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain, Canaries?
    Also, isn't the fine an imposition on the free movement of goods between member countries of the EU?
    After LCB and also the lack of control on 'exports' or warehouse to warehouse transactions perhaps the Revenue should look in the mirror and start fining itself for facilitation of smuggling or failing in its duty of care to protect the revenue?
    So many questions, so few answers!

  3. so HMRC fine the genuine sellers, prosecute the smugglers, and leave 'their own thieves' alone........... That's justice for you.
    the good old HMRC, a credit to her majesty........NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Anyone heard about the TWO HMRC guys arrested for stealing cigarettes? Rumours are rife!

    1. News filtering through, it was as a result of a tip-off, they had made a packet out of it but at the last minute blown it all, investigators state the 2 were easily rolled and have coughed to the whole thing and that this type of behaviour will have been finally stubbed out finally after having been a king size and taxing affair.

    2. pun pun pun I do think! good though. we'll see if the evidence stacks up (in the evidence room) if the perps are charged (or allowed to go free)
      and if HMRC plug the hole (or sink trying) lol

    3. Smoke 'em out!
      Those damn fags cause Qatar you know!
      Never mind Xmas is coming is that $anta$ $leigh I hear? "Jing Ling bells, Jing Ling bells, Jing Ling all the way..."!
      Ho Ho Ho and what do you want for Xmas little Links, a dame hood?

  5. Oy! Geezer on the cliff top, no-one tell you signalling to smugglers be illegal?

    One of they Excise men or Coast Preventive Men will Ave ye shortly, oh, forgot, they went the same way as the watchers and revenue constables! Even their cutters look like a salvage tug with them stripes, see 'em from miles away now, lovely contrast to the sea grey paint.

    Never mind me darlings, watch the wall.

  6. The will be some hefty investigation going on and a significant drive to tighten everything up before TSHTF and this becomes public knowledge. It will enable them to state they have addressed any issues before the inevitable criticisms hit. Yes, job done, nothing to see here, move along.