Burnley shopkeeper who stood to make £12,000 selling illegal cigarettes is fined

A Burnley shopkeeper who stood to make more than £12,000 selling illegal cigarettes has been fined £2,360 after a raid by Trading Standards officers.

Saman Karime, 34, of Chadderton, Oldham appeared before Burnley Magistrates earlier this month after 825 packs of counterfeit/branded cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco were seized at the Burnley Mini Market in Croft Street during an inspection in June 2022.

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Around 150 packs were counterfeit while the rest were smuggled with no duty paid. Lancashire County Council’s Trading Standards team estimate that the packs were worth £12,366 compared to the cost of their genuine, tax-paid counterparts.

Some of the products found at Burnley Mini Market in Croft Street

A test purchase was carried out in the shop around a month later when a different employee sold a packet of Richmond-branded cigarettes for £4.50 - less than half of the high street price of a legitimate pack.

Prosecuting, Nicholas McNamara, told the court that the Burnley Mini Market had a history of selling illicit tobacco products. In 2020, an employee there pleaded guilty after 517 similar packs were seized at the shop.

County Coun. Michael Green, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Shops selling smuggled and counterfeit tobacco undermine efforts to reduce smoking rates and make it virtually impossible for law-abiding retailers to compete.

“Counterfeit tobacco poses an additional risk as consumers have no way of knowing what goes into making it, or of the levels of harmful substances it might contain.

“Every pack of illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco sold deprives the Government of duty and VAT which, in this case, could have been over £8,500 had Saman Karime been able to sell it all. This ultimately means that this money cannot be used to fund important public services such as our NHS and our schools.”

Coun. Green continued: "When unscrupulous shopkeepers sell these illegal products, they can endanger the lives of our residents and they deprive our local communities of funding for public services.”

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Magistrates imposed a fine of £1,600, plus £160 victim surcharge. Karime was also ordered to pay costs of £600, and an order authorising Trading Standards officers to destroy the 825 seized packs was made.