Newport Trading Standards confiscate over £1/4 million from tobacco fraudster

Posted on Friday 11th August 2017

A judge has ordered that assets totalling more than £255,000 should be confiscated from a man involved in the sale and supply of illegal tobacco in Newport

In January, Tahar Mohammed was sentenced to three years imprisonment for his part in the criminal activity run from a shop he owned in Commercial Road, Newport.

He and three other men were successfully prosecuted following what was described as one of the most significant trading standards operations in Wales of its kind.

A Proceeds of Crime investigation against Mohammed was concluded at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday 8 August.

It was agreed that the criminal benefit of the fraudulent business was more than £550,000 and a confiscation order of £255.026.39 was made on the following terms:

  • The defendant's vehicle is to be passed to Newport City Council for disposal
  • 155 Commercial Road is to be sold at auction
  • Equity in the family home in the sum of £40,000 is to be confiscated
  • All money in Mohammed's bank account is to be confiscated.

He has three months to pay and failure could result in a further prison sentence of three and a half years.

Newport City Council's Trading Standards officers worked with colleagues from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and police to carry out the investigation which began in April 2015.

An inspection of a storage unit owned by Mohammed uncovered more than 225,000 counterfeit and non-duty paid cigarettes, and more than 112kg of hand rolling tobacco, stored in various containers including cardboard boxes of Lithuanian bread. Trading Standards Officers found the same boxes, with identical batch numbers, at Feryad Mohammed Abdul-Kadir's shop, Eastern European Food, on Commercial Road in the city centre.

In June 2015, Trading Standards and HMRC officers discovered more than 500,000 illicit cigarettes and 194.8kg of hand rolling tobacco in a garage at Mohammed's home address in Bristol. Over £40,000 in cash, hidden under his bed, and bags containing thousands of pounds in coins, were also seized.

In September 2015 Trading Standards and police searched the flat above the shop, also owned by Mohammed and rented by Richard Jendrejcak, and discovered a chute under the floorboards leading directly into the shop's stockroom. The chute was purposely disguised behind a false wall.

A baby monitor, found next to the chute, was used to communicate with colleagues in the shop who were selling the tobacco to customers. Over 13,000 cigarettes and eight kilogrammes of hand rolling tobacco were found in the flat.

In total, nearly three quarters of a million cigarettes and over 300kg of hand rolling tobacco, with an estimated duty and tax evaded of £300,000, were seized.

Councillor Ray Truman, Newport City Council's Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulation, said: "This week's hearing was a very satisfactory conclusion to a successful investigation and prosecution.

"We will not hesitate to prosecute others involved in such activity and urge anyone who suspects people are selling counterfeit goods or services to call our rogue trading hotline 01633 235233 in confidence."

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