Men held over VAT fraud bailed

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The Independent Online

Twenty men arrested by investigators looking into a suspected £50 million excise duty and VAT fraud have been freed on bail.





Synchronised raids were conducted yesterday morning on 12 commercial and 17 domestic properties across the South East and the Midlands.



Searches also took place in Germany as part of the investigation, which involved more than 200 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers.



Investigators suspect that alcohol, bought duty free and said to be destined for markets in the EU, was smuggled back on to the UK market without proper payment of excise duty and VAT.



The 20 men were interviewed as part of investigations into the suspected abuse of the international bonded warehouse system.



HMRC spokesman Bob Gaiger said all those arrested had been freed on bail until June next year, pending further inquiries.



Four arrests were made in Loughton, Essex; one in Bromley, south-east London; one in Ilford; two in Romford; one in Farnham, Surrey; one in Hove, East Sussex; one in Rochford; one in Reading; one in Brighton; one in Enfield, Hertfordshire; one in Barking; one in Hornchurch; one in Birmingham; two in east London; and one in Hainault.