Following an investigation led by Oldham Council’s Trading Standards and supported by the National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team (North West), Oldham-based company Homing Pigeon Logistics Trade Ltd has been fined £168,000 and told to forfeit £152,000.
In 2014 the council received complaints about the safety of products being distributed by the company.
The business was operating as a fulfilment house, which acted as a warehouse and shipment centre for imported goods, predominantly for Chinese sellers operating via eBay.
Officers visited the unit, seizing a quantity of unsafe fairy lights, as well as giving advice to Taolue Chen, who was a director of the company.
However, the company continued to distribute unsafe items until September 2016 when Trading Standards entered the premises under a warrant and seized more than 10,000 items, including fairy lights, air pumps, facial steamers, wireless routers, hair clippers, foot spas and nail lamps.
More than 90% of the products seized did not comply with safety regulations and legal proceedings were brought under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005.
At a previous hearing at Minshull Street Crown Court, Chen pleaded guilty to the offences committed in his personal capacity as a director and was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and was given an unpaid work order.
On March 25 the company was fined £20,000, ordered to pay prosecution costs to Oldham Council of £148,000 and had £152,000 confiscated as proceeds of crime.
Chen was also disqualified from being a company director for a period of five years.
Her Honour Judge Baxter when sentencing said: “You operated a business with a lack of due diligence. You were warned repeatedly as a distributor and didn’t change your practices or procedures”.
Helen Lockwood, Deputy Chief Executive at Oldham Council, said: “Chen’s business was distributing products all over the UK and was placing the safety of consumers at risk.
“We take the safety of our residents, and those outside the borough, seriously and took action when it was clear that the business was not listening to the advice it was being given.
“We are pleased that the court has awarded us full costs so that the burden of bringing this case is not passed further onto the taxpayer. Let this be a clear message to businesses that they must comply with the law.”
Lord Toby Harris, Chair of the National Trading Standards Board, said: “Chen was putting customers at risk of receiving unsafe and dangerous products.
“National Trading Standards works tirelessly to stop this kind of activity so I am delighted with the decision made at Minshull Street Crown Court.”