4th March 2024

Counterfeit tobacco seller sentenced

The owner of a string of limited companies set up to sell illicit tobacco has been brought to justice.

By JTS Staff
Journal of Trading Standards' in-house team

A shop owner has been jailed for 18 months for selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco following a complex and long-running investigation by Caerphilly County Borough Council Trading Standards.

Between 2018 and 2019 Officers visited Caerphilly Market, operating from 65 Cardiff Road in Caerphilly town centre, and seized small amounts of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco. The business appeared to be owned by a number of limited companies, and Officers suspected it had been set up as a front for the sale of illegal tobacco. Once tobacco was seized, the company ceased trading and the premises closed for a short while until a new company was put in place.

Some of the illicit tobacco seized (image credit: Caerphilly County Borough Council)

In July 2019 Caerphilly Trading Standards discovered that Amanj Mawlod Tawfik was living above the premises and was apparently behind the businesses operating there.

Over the following two years Officers continued to the monitor the premises and discovered three separate companies had been set up and operated selling counterfeit tobacco there. Matters came to a head in June 2021 when Caerphilly Trading Standards and a regional Trading Standards team raided the premises, seizing more than 3,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 3 kilos of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco. Most of the goods had been concealed in a vehicle parked near the premises.

Immediately prior to this operation Tawfik had been arrested by Gwent Police Officers on suspicion of other unrelated offences and a search of the shop revealed more than 30,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 9 kilos of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco worth approximately £30,000.

Tawfik (36) of Bwlch Road, Cardiff, was sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment at Newport Crown Court on 26 January. His associate, Dana Nadir Kadir (38) of Pisgah Close, Talywaun, was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work, attend six Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days, and pay Caerphilly Council £1,200 costs.

Another associate, Arshad Ahmad Rashid (46) of Cardiff Road, Caerphilly was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and pay Caerphilly Council £1,200 costs.

All three were charged under the Fraud Act 2006, and despite originally denying dealing in counterfeit tobacco, all three pleaded guilty.

Cllr Phillipa Leonard, Caerphilly County Borough Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection, said: “This is a great result for the council’s Trading Standards Team and reflects the hard work of the officers involved in carrying out the investigation.

“This should serve as a warning to others that directors cannot hide behind the corporate veil of limited companies. We will continue to crackdown on traders who supply illicit and counterfeit goods in Caerphilly County Borough.”

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