Criminal gangs involved in the supply of illegal labour to the fresh produce industry have cost taxpayers millions of pounds, according to anti-fraud minister Malcolm Wicks.
In an exclusive interview with The Grocer, Wicks said in this financial year alone, the government had lost more than £2.6m in VAT fraud to illegal gangmasters.
The gangs, who often use illegal immigrants and benefit claimants to supply labour to farmers and packhouses in the UK, are the target of the government's Operation Gangmaster. Wicks said the operation was going well and that they were "winning the war".
However he said it was unlikely the government would be introducing any legislation to enforce licensing and registration in the industry: "It seems like a good idea, but when you look at it closely it falls apart."
However he insisted the government was still open minded about the situation.
>>p28 Bringing in a bitter harvest

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