Bootleggers cheat taxman of pounds 20m

A "highly organised" gang of bootleggers cheated the taxman out of more than pounds 20m in Excise duty in just a few months, a court heard yesterday.

After collecting "massive quantities" of alcoholic drinks from bonded warehouses, on the understanding that the loads were destined for the Continent, the gang re-routed the drinks to warehouses and cash-and-carries across Britain, using bargain-basement prices to flood the market, it was claimed.

Kulwant Hare, 41, and his 48-year-old brother Sohan, Tofail Ahmed, 52, Alex Windsor, 43, Sunil Gopalan, 32, and Anthony Mills, 48, from the London and Essex areas, deny one count of conspiracy to cheat the public revenue between January and August 1995 and one alleging conspiracy to defraud. Mr Ahmed has pleaded not guilty to three counts of fraudulent evasion of duty.