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, 10 December 2012

The Dangers of Garlic

Now here's a rather interesting tale of deceit and skulduggery, concerning garlic, that the good people of HMRC unearthed.

A little know fact (little known to me at any rate) is that fresh ginger does not attract duty, but fresh garlic does.

Therefore if you are a dishonest importer of fresh ginger and garlic you will attempt to persuade HMRC that you are importing only ginger, rather than garlic. Murugasan Natarajan attempted just such a deception, but HMRC could smell something was not quite right and uncovered over 7,000 tonnes of undeclared garlic (on which duty of £9K was owed).

Murugasan Natarajan has now done a runner!

Here is the full HMRC press release below:
"A garlic smuggler has been jailed for six years for evading around £2 million in customs duty after importing Chinese garlic. 

The smuggler, who is now on the run, claimed he was importing ginger but HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators found that the containers being used were transported at the wrong temperature.

HMRC had launched an investigation into Murugasan Natarajan, 57, who owned the London based Perfect Imports & Exports Ltd company, and with his assitant Lakshmi Suresh, 28, after UK Border Agency  officers found more than 7,000 tons of garlic in addition to the load disclosed for duty purposes – equalling almost £9,000 of unpaid duty. HMRC later checked shipping records and discovered that imports of garlic had stopped but importations of fresh ginger - which are free of duty - had increased five-fold. Further checks showed that the temperature in the containers used were too cold for ginger, but perfect for garlic. 

Natarajan was arrested in April 2011, and was tried in his absence after failing to surrender to bail.
Peter Millroy, Assistant Director of HMRC Criminal Investigation, said: 

“The penalty imposed on Natarajan is the longest sentence imposed in the UK in recent years for the evasion of customs duty. Over 100 containers were identified where there were strong grounds to believe that the contents had either been understated or wrongly described. These rules are designed to protect legitimate businesses from unfair competition.”

During a search of Natarajan’s property almost £150,000 in cash was seized under the proceeds of crime act. In sentencing Natarajan, His Honour Judge Worsley QC said he had played a leading role from the outset, describing the fraud as being “sophisticated, persistent and prolonged.”   

Anyone with any information of the whereabouts of Natarajan should contact HMRC’s Customs, Excise and VAT fraud hotline on 0800 595 000, by email or post.                             

Notes to Editors

1. Murugasan Natarajan of 44 West Drayton Park Avenue, West Drayton, failed to surrender to bail and was tried in his absence at the Old Bailey.  On 7 December 2012, the jury returned a verdict of guilty and sentenced him to 6 years imprisonment. 
2. On 22nd November 2012, Lakshmi Suresh of 4 Stormount Drive, Hayes, pleaded guilty to her role in the fraud and was sentenced to a term of 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.  She was also ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to HMRC."

Tax does have to be taxing.

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  1. Was there are "stake" out involved?

    Anyone know why the difference in liability between ginger and garlic?

    Would this amount of garlic have wiped out Excom in one go? LOL!

  2. £9000 in tax = six years in gaol! It may have been a systematic well planned and long term fraud but six years? What about those tax evaders with Swiss accounts - let of with paying interest and penalties for much larger evasion. Not even named and shamed FFS. It is who you are in this country.

    1. In the first paragraph it says "around £2 million". the £9k was just that first container which tipped them off.

      Stew G

    2. Good spot! I still have to ask why the tax evaders are let off. There was a rumour that the list included MPs and high level Civil Servants - from the Private Sector - all of whom should know better and all of whom would fall under what I understand to be HMRC policy - that is to prosecute those who are in a position of authority/who ought to know better. The sooner that list is leaked the better.

    3. Oooohhhhh.......a rumour. A secret list,and,get this, and "high level Civil Servants-from the Private Sector"

      WTF does that even mean?

    4. Badly worded - my fault. People brought in from the private sector to improve performance in the Civil Service. Now answer the point - should they get away with it - if I am right or should they be prosecuted and named and shamed? Remember this is tax evasion not avoidance.

  3. Surely it will cost us more then £9k over the six years to keep him in prison in which case we are still making a loss, about time that people paid their own way in jail like the Uni people have to (not in jail of course)

    Also why the difference in duty

  4. Natarajan must be an idiot not to pay duty of just £1.30 per tonne of garlic.
    Did he also import peanuts? There's a joke somewhere in there.

  5. Someone, I don't know who, has got the figures wrong, whether it was the revenue (hope they can read their speedometers better on the M25 when over the speed limit...) or it was the media liaison person, or whoever.
    Mind you China produces a phenominal amount of garlic, makes you wonder what the imports were really about if the figures don't add up? Were they Trojan Horses...? Did the movement of the money reflect the movement of the goods?
    This has all the ingredients of a good curry! LOL!

  6. Difference in duty to protect EU garlic producers. Presumably no EU ginger growers so no need to impose a duty.