Five men and a woman have been arrested in the West Midlands and the South of England as part of a joint investigation by UK and French authorities into a suspected £440m alcohol fraud and money laundering.

More than 100 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with officers from the National Customs Judicial Service (SNDJ) and local police, searched seven private and six business addresses in Birmingham, Stourbridge, Wolverhampton, London and Surrey areas during wthe morning of Thursday June 15.

The raids followed five arrests made by the French authorities on 30 January in connection with the investigation, which is being done through Eurojust. A 52-year-old man from the Calais area has been remanded in custody, with the four others released on bail pending further enquiries.

Computers, business records and cash were seized during the operation. All six of those arrested in the UK remain in custody. Investigations are continuing.

Simon York, director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said: “Organised criminals undermine our public services and threaten legitimate business. HMRC works closely with international partners to crack down on their illicit operations and recover revenue stolen from the public.”