Shopkeeper told to pay £228,737 in proceeds of crime

By on 29/06/2017 in News
TS Officer Geary Warmington with illegal products seized

TS Officer Geary Warmington with illegal products seized

A Birmingham trader who was found to be in possession of illegal cigarettes and tobacco, has been ordered to pay £228,737 after a proceeds of crime hearing at Birmingham Crown Court today (29 June 2017).

Pritpal Singh Khurana, 38, who ran M&S News, 62-64 Herrick Road, Washwood Heath, had pleaded guilty to 10 offences under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Tobacco Products (Manufacture, Presentation and Sale (Safety)) Regulations 2002 and Trade Marks Act 1994, at an earlier hearing (16 October 2015).

In addition to the Confiscation Order for £228,737 under the Proceeds of Crime Act, Khurana was also ordered to pay £21,263 costs.  The total amount – £250,000 – is payable within 3 months, and if it is not paid he faces two years’ imprisonment in default.

Birmingham City Council brought the case against Khurana following a raid of the premises on 8 October 2014, as part of a national crackdown on the sale of illicit tobacco – products which have either been smuggled into the country, illegally produced or for which no duty has been paid.

Trading Standards officers, working with local police teams, seized 6,328 packs of illegal cigarettes and 692 pouches of hand rolling tobacco, worth around £43,000 during the inspection.  Most of these were found by sniffer dogs hidden behind a false wall and ceiling and underneath a false floor in a toilet.

Officers also seized two bottles of Bacardi Rum that did not have original UK Duty labels, and consequently were not valid for sale in the UK.

The cigarettes and tobacco seized included counterfeit brands and cheap foreign labelled products that breached consumer protection legislation and were non-duty paid, which cannot be legally sold in the UK. The statutory health warnings on the packaging were not in English or did not include photographic images.

As a result of this seizure, a review of M&S News Convenience Store’s premises licence was heard by the city council’s Licensing Sub-Committee on 8 December 2014, who decided to revoke it.

Cllr Barbara Dring

Cllr Barbara Dring

Cllr Barbara Dring, Chair of the city council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Detection dogs can find tobacco and cigarettes, even if they are hidden in the most unlikely places. Offenders need to know they will face the consequences if they choose to deal in these illegal products  – as seen today with Pritpal Khurana being ordered to pay £250,000 by the court.

“Those involved in dealing in illegal tobacco may be encouraging people, including children to smoke by providing a cheap source. This activity also brings crime into our neighbourhoods, which is why it is important to clamp down on it. This also has an impact on those businesses that are trading legally.”

M&S New is now operated under new management and has been able to continue trading. Farooq Khan was granted a new premises licence for the business on 17 August 2015.

ENDS

 

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