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Twenty held over £50m 'drink fraud'

Twenty men were arrested yesterday by investigators looking into a suspected £50m excise duty and VAT fraud.

Synchronised raids were conducted on 12 commercial and 17 domestic properties across the South-east and the Midlands. Searches were also taking place in Germany as part of the investigation, which involved more than 200 HM Revenue and Customs officers.

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

Investigations are continuing into the suspected abuse of the international bonded warehouse system.