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HMRC internal manual

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

Penalties and sanctions: trading without approval - deliberate and concealed

Trading without approval is deliberate and concealed if the person:

  • knows that they are required to be approved
  • fails to seek approval at the correct time, but
  • does not do so and takes active steps to conceal the fact that they are required to do so.

Concealing the fact that they should have applied to be approved is the most serious level of evasion unless a criminal investigation is considered appropriate. HMRC have a criminal investigation policy and will refer the most serious cases for consideration of criminal proceedings where appropriate.

The act of concealment may include:

  • destroying books and records which show evidence of wholesale sales so that they should not be available
  • falsifying records to make wholesale sales appear to be sales to the general public
  • concealing sales of alcohol on which the duty has not been paid
  • concealing the use of premises used to carry on wholesale sales.

Example of Deliberate and Concealed

Wayne runs a corner shop and has a retail licence to sell alcohol. As a result of checks on the supply chain, you have evidence to show he has been supplying other wholesalers and retailers with alcohol without approval. You have also observed him supplying alcohol out of a lock-up to other traders. The lock-up is fully stocked with alcohol. When challenged, Wayne denies any wholesale trading and when you examine the lock-up, the alcohol has been removed and he claims he uses it to park his shop van.  Wayne was aware of the requirement to be approved, has deliberately not applied for approval and concealed his wholesale activities.

Reasonable excuse is not available for deliberate and concealed behaviour.