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Government 'failing to act' over tobacco smuggling

MPs have complained of a "farcical" lack of action against tobacco manufacturers in a stinging assessment of Government efforts to tackle smuggling.

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MPs: HMRC efforts over tobacco smuggling 'farcical'

The Commons home affairs select committee has suggested that HM Revenue and Customs and the Border Force should do more to tackle historic cases and ongoing cases of tobacco smuggling.

We are worried that not enough is being done by the Government and its appropriate agencies to combat the problem of tobacco smuggling at source.

We urge the members of HMRC and Border Force set up firm relationships with their counterparts in countries such as Malaysia. This will ensure that intelligence and best practice is shared.

...It is astonishing that no UK tobacco manufacturer has ever been fined for oversupply of products to high-risk overseas markets, and that only one statutory warning letter has been issued.

The penalties available are too weak and enforcement too rare. We find it farcical that a respected enforcement agency such as HMRC has not imposed tougher punishments on those over-supplying overseas markets.

We recommend that HMRC publish a clear set of criteria setting out the circumstances in which it would normally impose a fine and that an immediate review be taken against all historic and ongoing cases against this criteria in order to ensure those who have committed an offence do not go unpunished.

– Commons home affairs select committee

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