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Palmerston Road trader pleads guilty to illicit booze and fags

Company Director Mr Ismail Sari, 35, of Boundary Road, Walthamstow, pleaded guilty to four charges at Thames Magistrates’ Court on 15 May following the discovery of illicit cigarettes and alcohol at Palmerston Food Centre, located at 86 Palmerston Road, Walthamstow.

He was given full credit for his guilty plea to the charges of engaging in unfair trading practices and ordered to pay just over £1,000 – a fine of £216, £769 costs and a £20 victim surcharge. The Court also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the alcohol and cigarettes.

Back on 19 November last year, Trading Standards Officers from Waltham Forest Council were accompanied by officers from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and a representative from the International Federation of Spirit Producers when they visited Palmerston Food Centre.

During the visit 23 bottles of one litre High Commissioner Whisky and five bottles of 70cl Glen’s Vodka were seized. All of the seized bottles bore counterfeit duty stamps indicating the required Duty had been diverted. HMRC Officers also seized 4,470 foreign mixed non duty paid foreign cigarettes which were found hidden on the premises. HMRC calculated the total duty evaded for the illicit seized goods, amounted to £2,044.

Mr Sari told Trading Standards Officers that the seized High Commissioner Whisky was left on the shop premises when he took over the business. He said the Glen’s Vodka was purchased from a dubious person trading from a warehouse in Barking.

Mr Sari also disclosed that the seized cigarettes were purchased from an unidentified white van man and he admitted that he had purchased goods from these questionable sources in an attempt to boost his takings.  

“Unfortunately this is all too common a story,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “Yet again a business has fallen foul of white van man and other dodgy dealers in an attempt to make a quick buck.

“Well now that he is £1,000 lighter thanks to the courts, has lost all that stock, and the money he paid the dubious individuals who supplied him with these illicit goods, he may well reflect on just how successful his strategy to boost his takings was in the long run! And it goes without saying he is not out the woods yet. We will be looking to review of his Alcohol Licence too.”

PHOTO: Some of the counterfeit goods seized on the raid at the off-licence.


  • The UK duty stamp is usually incorporated on the rear label of spirits at production stage. The stamp aims to tackle fraud and indicates that tax has been paid on products to which it applies.

  • Criminal gangs obtain at reduced prices, spirits that are not destined to be sold in the UK and are exempt from UK duty requirements. They illegally offer the spirits for sale within the UK at the approximate cost of a UK duty paid product, making a profit on the difference between the ‘free of duty’ cost and the duty paid cost.

  • Before offering the offending spirits for sale, counterfeit labels are applied to the bottles to avoid detection by enforcement authorities. This fraudulent behaviour results in tax revenue losses and creates an unfair trading environment for honest traders.

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