© Mike Clegg |hmrc 37524894
© Mike Clegg

UK Customs has been accused of being “asleep at the wheel”, allowing imports of illegal Chinese goods without paying VAT.

The Loadstar has been alerted to the problem in recent months by several executives involved in importing goods into the UK, who noted the scale of the problem, particularly in regards to cross-border e-commerce.

The UK government could now face a £1.7bn fine. Some 80% of EU Customs duties fund the EU budget.

“France, Germany, Spain and Italy are estimated to have lost a combined €3.2bn from 2013 to 2016 in VAT revenue as a result of British failures in handling imports at its ports,” notes The Guardian.

With the UK looking to leave the Customs Union, politicians have expressed concern that its customs officials have failed to take action against the frauds.

One MP said: “The UK border force is asleep at the wheel, and it’s going to cost the taxpayer billions. This doesn’t bode well for reckless plans to leave the Customs Union and set up border checks for all goods coming into UK.”

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