Wolverhampton supermarket loses licence after £6k worth of fake tobacco found
A city supermarket where £6,300 worth of dodgy cigarettes and tobacco was seized in two separate raids has had its premises licence revoked.
Zinar Supermarket, in Lime Street, Pennfields, had its licence suspended last September after two separate raids in which trading standards officers uncovered illicit goods including 11,300 cigarettes, 2.4kg tobacco and 167 blunts – papers.
An application to review the licence was received by the city council on December 1 last year, and on December 22, a request was made to transfer it from Najid Sadeq to Rajiv Kumar Sharma.
Both were invited but neither turned up to a licensing sub-committee meeting to discuss the matter.
Diane Slack, district officer for the city council's Trading Standards department, told the committee: "On February 12, city council trading standards officers received information that illicit tobacco was being sold at the supermarket.
"On February 25 officers visited with a tobacco search dog. On this occasion they found 8,193 single cigarette sticks and 1.65kg of tobacco. Also found was 132 labelled packets of blunts. Those items were discovered in a stock room and up a set of stairs.
"The licensee was in the shop with his friend Akram Barkat, who he lived and worked with. They were advised by officers that being in possession of or selling these items was a criminal offence."
The cigarettes found were a mixture of counterfeit products and foreign products for which the UK duty hadn't been paid. Foreign brands Minx and MZ were found, as well as fake Richmond, Royals and Mayfair cigarettes.
In the initial haul £4,555 worth of tobacco products were seized.
A follow-up visit was carried out on September 12. Only one person was there this time, Mr Akram. He told officers his name was Ali Israel. Illicit tobacco was found inside a light fitting and hidden elsewhere in the premises.
Also found were 3,164 single cigarettes as well as 0.75kg or tobaccos and 35 packets of blunts.
Again there was a mixture of British and foreign items, including Marlboro Gold. In total, £1,781.40 worth of products were seized.
Mrs Slack added: "Trading standards has a responsibility to try and get these products off the market. These men have actively breached the rules when they have been told not to.
"It's well reported that cigarettes are bad for people's health. Selling them cheaper is making them more easily accessible for people, who aren't de-incentivised by the high price due to tax. They are also more available to children because of this. With counterfeit products, you don't know what is going in them.
"I have since visited in January, and it might be a new person applying for the licence, but it was the same men running the shop who ignored officers that told them to stop selling the products. I have grave concerns that the people we identified as running the shop when the illicit products were being sold are still involved, and will still ignore the law."
Delivering the verdict, Councillor Alan Bolshaw, chair of the licensing sub committee, said: "
"This is a very serious offence. Guidance actually advises us to consider revoking the licence after the first offence, and there has been more than one. It is clear that the licensee ignored officers."
No one from the shop could be contacted for comment.