Worthing shopkeeper fined over £1k for supplying illegal cigarettes and tobacco

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A shopkeeper was fined over £1000 after a sniffer dog found illegal cigarettes and tobacco near the store.

Trading Standards officers and a search dog inspected Ideal Supermarket in Rowlands Road, Worthing, and found illicit smoking products in a van parked at the back of the shop.

Inside the van were 382 packets of tobacco and cigarettes, some of which were counterfeit, genuine but manufactured to be sold in other countries, or genuine but non-duty paid.

The shop owner, Shaswar Ranjbari, 24, pleaded guilty to the possession of counterfeit and foreign-labelled tobacco and the fraudulent evasion of excise duty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standards team manager, said: “Cheap and illegal tobacco is a serious concern to public health and Trading Standards is working to disrupt the harmful supply into West Sussex communities.

“Working with partner agencies and specialist detection dog teams we will continue to take robust enforcement action against any shop selling illicit tobacco in West Sussex.

“We are committed to safeguarding the health of our communities and ensuring that those who flout the law face the consequences, whilst supporting honest businesses who do comply with the regulatory framework around tobacco products.”

The court ordered Ranjbari to pay £1,957.65 and a victim surcharge of £400.

Magistrates decided on a reduced fine based on the trader’s early guilty plea and took into consideration the size of the seizure and his current earnings.

Two men working in the shop denied knowing about the van and said they did not have its keys, resulting in a locksmith having to open it.

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The investigation was part of a series of inspections in 2022 across Worthing and Littlehampton by the National Trading Standards and HMRC to tackle the illegal tobacco trade.

Ranjbari applied to Worthing Borough Council for an alcohol licence in 2022 and 2023, but the Trading Standards and Sussex Police objected to them.

The application in 2023, in the name of Ali’s Supermarket Ltd., was rejected by the council’s Licensing and Control Sub-Committee, who believed Ranjbari would not uphold the licence objectives.

Illegal or undesirable trading activity can be reported to the Trading Standards team online or by calling the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 223 1133.

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