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UK: Organised crime ready for stamp tax - report

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The UK government's plans to introduce tax stamps to combat fraud in the UK spirits industry were dealt a blow over the weekend, with a report in the Scottish newspaper the Herald claiming that criminal gangs had the ability to copy the proposed stamps within three weeks of their launch.

The newspaper cited a letter from a leading security consultant to HM Customs and Excise, which said international gangs are gearing up to mass-produce imitations of the planned duty strips.

The letter, written by Drew Samuel, managing director of Gavin Watson, one of Britain's leading makers of security products, warned that the whisky industry faces financial disaster because of crime gangs' access to the hologram-making machines. Organised criminals targeting the European drinks market were believed to have already acquired several.

The letter said: "The skill of the counterfeiters has been grossly underestimated. Apart from the ease of apparently authentic numbering, holograms have been globally downgraded as a protection."

In the report, David Williamson, spokesman for the Scotch Whisky Association, said: "This letter is important evidence, from an expert in security systems, that the proposed tax strips will not work. They are expensive to implement and they will be all too easy to copy."


Sectors: Spirits

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