The British Independent Motor Trade Association has moved to dampen fears over stolen grey imports by launching a guarantee scheme.
The BIMTA certificate of authenticity gives an underwritten money-back guarantee that a grey import is not registered as stolen or have outstanding financial liens, such as hire purchase, prior to leaving Japan. BIMTA will offer customers a refund on any grey import issued with a certificate that later proves to be stolen.
A two-year investigation by police, which ended this summer, unearthed a £1bn fraud on stolen grey imports. BBC consumer programme Watchdog highlighted the investigation, which estimated that between 60,000 to 100,000 grey imports in the UK were stolen vehicles.
BIMTA accused the programme makers of “blowing the problem out of all proportion”.
It believes the new guarantees will provide importers and motorists with an additional level of protection when dealing with Japanese vehicles. Certificates can also be issued for Japanese vehicles that are already in circulation in the UK.
Dealers will be able to exploit the scheme to attract potential buyers to their showrooms. BIMTA believes that eventually it will be difficult to buy, sell, insure or arrange finance on a grey import unless it has the certificate.