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Former shop owner pleads guilty after Trading Standards seizure

10:57 am, Thursday, 16th February 2023 - 1 year ago

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A former Grimsby shop owner has pleaded guilty following a Trading Standards seizure of illicit cigarettes and tobacco.

Atta Hussein Abasi, 27, of Tewkesbury Street, Cardiff, appeared before Grimsby Magistrates Court on Friday 10 February charged with eight offences relating to illegal tobacco products, four offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 for possession to supply counterfeit tobacco products, three offences concerning possession to supply incorrectly labelled tobacco products and one offence of possessing for the supply menthol cigarettes.

These were seized by North East Lincolnshire Council’s Trading Standards officers during an unannounced inspection of International Medine on Hainton Avenue, Grimsby, on 10 February 2022.

In total, 5,460 cigarettes (273 packs) and 7.25kg (145 x 50g pouches) of hand rolling tobacco were seized from the premises.

The street value of the entire goods seized, based upon current HMRC figures of a price of £5 per pack of cigarettes and £11 per 50g pouch of tobacco would be £2,960. A legitimate value, based on £11.40 per pack and £25.80 per pouch, would be £6,853.20.

The value of the counterfeit goods which were seized, using the same calculation, would be a street value of £330 and a legitimate value of £752.40.

Abasi was fined £126, ordered to pay costs of £565, and a victim surcharge to pay of an additional £34.

The visit was carried out as part of the council’s ongoing commitment to Operation CeCe, a joint venture with HMRC.

Since the commencement of Operation CeCe in January 2021, the council’s Trading Standards team has seized more than 1,083,220 illegal cigarettes (54,161 packs) and 332.2kg of tobacco (6,644 pouches), with a legitimate value of £833,701 and a street value of over £343,889.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “Each inspection that we carry out disrupts the supply chain. With the support of the public, we can bring an end to this criminal trade. We do this to protect you.

“We will act on information received and enforce where necessary, so please get in touch with the council’s Trading Standards team if you are concerned.”

Lord Michael Bichard, chair of National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Having removed 21 million illegal cigarettes, 5,800kg of hand rolling tobacco and almost 175kg of shisha products from sale, the National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HMRC continues to successfully disrupt this illicit trade.”

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