The director of a town centre shop has been handed a suspended jail sentence after officers from Bedford Borough Council seized smuggled and counterfeit tobacco.
International Mini Market Ltd and its director Shaho Karimi, pleaded guilty at Luton Crown Court to multiple breaches of legal requirements relating to the sale of tobacco - including labelling and trademark offences associated to smuggled and counterfeit tobacco.
Mr Karimi was sentenced on 27 October to 50 weeks’ imprisonment for the trademark offences, and 26 weeks for the tobacco labelling offences, to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay costs of £7,500 and undertake 100 hours of unpaid work
The prosecution took place following a significant investigation by Bedford Borough Council’s Trading Standards team at the shop in Thurlow Street. This included providing advice and guidance to the business, and repeated failed test purchase operations, as well as seizures of smuggled and counterfeit tobacco from the business.
A council spokesperson said: “The business and Mr Karim showed a complete disregard for the law, continuing to take part in the sale of illegal tobacco despite repeated interventions by council officers. We will continue to monitor the activities at the business, and will not hesitate to take further action if necessary.
“Any businesses selling illegal tobacco are warned that the Trading Standards Service will use all the enforcement tools available, including prosecution and closure orders, to ensure these activities do not continue.
“If you believe a business is selling illegal tobacco it can be reported to Trading Standard via the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133 or www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/.”