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Company Director caught with hooky booze and fags...again!

A Company Director caught with illicit cigarettes and alcohol on one of his premises back in November last year has failed to learn his lesson, with Waltham Forest Council’s intrepid Trading Standards service uncovering a further cache of illicit goods at another one of his outlets this summer.

Back on 19 November last year, Trading Standards Officers 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 at 86 Palmerston Road, Walthamstow.

During the visit 23 bottles of High Commissioner Whisky and five bottles of Glen’s Vodka bearing counterfeit duty stamps were seized. Officers also seized 4,470 mixed non duty paid foreign cigarettes which were found hidden on the premises. HMRC calculated the total duty evaded amounted to over £2,000.

Company Director Mr Ismail Sari, 35, of Boundary Road, Walthamstow told Trading Standards Officers that he had purchased the vodka from a dubious person trading from a warehouse in Barking and the cigarettes from an unidentified white van man.

Mr Sari admitted that he had purchased the goods in an attempt to boost his takings.

As a result he was ordered to pay just over £1,000 – a fine of £216, £769 costs and a £20 victim surcharge – when he was taken to Thames Magistrates Court by the council on 15 May this year.

However, less than a month later on 11 June Trading Standards officers, along with officers from HMRC, visited Class Fruit and Veg at 463 Lea Bridge Road, Leyton and discovered 21 bottles of spirits with no duty stamps attached, thirteen bottles of spirits bearing counterfeit duty stamps and 7,180 foreign cigarettes with no UK duty paid notice. HMRC calculated that the excise duty evaded equated to over £2,300.

Again the Council put this matter before Thames Magistrates Court and on 9 October the court once more backed their actions, handing Mr Sari a £250 fine and ordering him to pay costs of £500.

In addition to the successful prosecutions, the licences for both premises were reviewed by the Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee and revoked on 7 September (Palmerston Food Centre) and 20 October (Class Fruit and Veg) respectively.

An appeal to Magistrates has been lodged against the revocation of the alcohol licence at Palmerston Food Centre. The owner has 21 days to appeal the decision in respect of Class Fruit and Veg.   

Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “What is particularly cheeky with this individual is that when the first case went to court he was given full credit for putting in a guilty plea to the charges. Then less than four weeks later our Trading Standards officers walk into another one of his stores and find the same thing!

“It’s a salutary lesson to any other traders in the borough approached by dodgy dealers or a dubious white van man. Give them a wide berth as rather than making a quick buck you’ll find yourself both facing prosecution and having your license revoked. That’s exactly what happened to Mr Sari – twice over! – and that is exactly what will happen to anyone else harbouring illicit alcohol or cigarettes.

“We are out there checking and we will find you.”

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