Huge fine for company connected to sale of illegal tobacco

A company whose director claimed a haul of thousands of illegal cigarettes were for ‘personal use’ has been fined £16,000.

At a hearing held at Manchester Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Thursday, March 24) Moxom Manchester Limited, of Dagenham Road, Rusholme, was charged with breaches of Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, as well as breaches of Trade Mark Regulations. This follows an investigation into its business practices by Manchester City Council’s Trading Standards Team. In the run up to this conviction, seizures of illicit tobacco were made from this business on two separate occasions – on November 12, 2020, and June 12, 2021. This was the result of intelligence gathering which suggested illegal tobacco was being sold at the premises. On the first occasion more than 11,000 cigarettes and 900g of rolling tobacco was found behind the counter of the premises, as well as in boxes and a rucksack. Brands seized included Richmond, Lambert and Butler, Mayfair and Amber Leaf.  When interviewed the company’s director claimed he was out of the country when the seizure was made, and the member of staff working in the premises was not actually employed by the company. On the second occasion a tobacco dog assisting Trading Standards detected 600g of rolling tobacco and more than 2,000 illegal cigarettes stored behind the counter and from a hidden compartment built into the wall. When questioned again by Trading Standards, the company director claimed the items seized were for personal use and had been bought from someone who came into the shop offering tobacco for sale. No representative from the company attended the court hearing, and guilt was proved in absence, with the company ordered to pay a fine of £16,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of £2,500, and pay a victim surcharge of £250. Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “The scale of the number of cigarettes seized from this business proves just how big a problem the illegal tobacco trade is. Illegal tobacco has proven links to creating new smokers, as well as acting as a stumbling block for people trying to quit. “Closing off avenues where they are sold is not just a matter of enforcing the law, it is a way of protecting public health. “I am very grateful for the diligence and hard work of our Trading Standards Team and Legal Team in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”

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