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Holywell man jailed for £1.8m alcohol fraud

A HOLYWELL man has been jailed for masterminding a £1.8m alcohol fraud.

Paramjit Bagri, 45, of Holway Road, was sentenced to 66 months on Friday for conspiring to evade UK duty between January 2007 and January 2008.

He was one of six men to be jailed after HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers discovered that spirits, beer and wine were taken from warehouses throughout the UK and then illegally diverted from their intended destination, usually Europe, ending up for sale in the North West of England, Scotland and the Midlands without duty having been paid.

Bagri, who is known as Pete, had pleaded guilty to the offences before the trial.

Mike O’Grady, assistant director of criminal investigation for HMRC, said: “These men diverted large numbers of consignments of alcohol from their intended legitimate destinations thereby avoiding paying UK duty and taxes. It was a very calculated attempt to defraud the Crown and to personally profit from the illegal trade.”

The evaded UK duty alone was given as more than £1,799,448 in court, but confiscation proceedings will look to determine other tax evasion and criminal benefits associated with their activities.

At the sentencing, Judge Martin Steiger said: “This was an ingenious and complex fraud and I am satisfied that Bagri was top of the tree.”

Bagri was a co-director of MF Beers and Minerals based in Warrington, Cheshire.

The company was involved in the wholesale distribution of beers, wines and spirits but has now ceased trading.

He now faces confiscation of his assets and upon his release he will have a seven-year director’s disqualification.

Separately, Bagri pleaded guilty to the attempted illegal importation of nine million cigarettes in December 2007 and was sentenced to an additional 42 months for that to run concurrently. The cigarettes had a potential tax loss of over £1.4m.