A Birmingham off-licence which sold illicit alcohol and tobacco has had its premises licence revoked.
Members of Birmingham City Council’s licensing sub-committee made the decision today (29 October 2014) after meeting to review the premises licence for Super Zabka at 294 Rookery Road, Handsworth.
The council’s Trading Standards department first received a complaint about the business in September 2013, from a member of the public concerned that counterfeit vodka was being sold from the premises.
Trading Standards officers, accompanied by the police, visited the premises on 11 September 2013 and seized 24 bottles of Glen’s Vodka and two bottles of High Commissioner Whisky suspected to have been falsely labelled to give the impression they could legally be sold in the UK. Subsequent checks confirmed that while the bottles contained genuine product, they had in fact been bottled for the export market and their back labels were counterfeit.
Jafaar Karimi, the licence holder and designated premises supervisor, was interviewed and accepted full responsibility for these matters although he claimed the items had been purchased by an assistant without his consent. This offence took place within six weeks of Mr Karimi becoming the licence holder and designated premises supervisor.
On 16 January 2014, Mr Karimi was asked to make a voluntary variation to his alcohol licence stating that the business would only purchase alcohol and tobacco products from reputable suppliers, with all invoices and VAT receipts for such purchases to be made available for inspection on request to ensure traceability.
Trading Standards officers and police officers visited Super Zabka again on 13 June 2014 as part of a joint exercise in the Handsworth area to check for illicit tobacco and alcohol products. While no such products were found on display in the shop or behind the counter, a tobacco search dog found tobacco products hidden in a stack of beer cans. Cans had been removed from the centre of the third tray up, with the space instead filled with 32 packets of illicit cigarettes which bore no statutory safety markings or UK Duty Paid marks.
Mr Karimi was interviewed and told officers he had actually purchased 40 packets of cigarettes for his own personal use from a couple who had called into the shop, but had found that he did not like them so decided to sell them to get his money back. He admitted that he had hidden them because he knew it was illegal to sell them.
Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Jafaar Karimi has shown a flagrant disregard for the law in the way he runs his business, selling alcohol and tobacco which he knew could not legally be sold in the UK and even going as far as to conceal the illicit tobacco.
“This is completely unacceptable, which is why I am pleased that the licence has been revoked. I hope that this decision will send a clear message that such irresponsible actions will not be tolerated in Birmingham.”