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Wisbech shop staff Nazhad Fatihi and Hadi Rafiq fined for selling counterfeit cigarettes

PUBLISHED: 05:00 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:04 19 January 2018

Tobacco was found hidden behind the boiler. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Tobacco was found hidden behind the boiler. Picture: CAMBRIDGESHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

Archant

Shop workers who sold counterfeit and unsafe tobacco have been ordered to pay £7,785 in fines between them.

Nazhad Fatihi and Hadi Rafiq will also have to complete 380 hours of unpaid work between them after almost 600 counterfeit cigarettes and almost 1,500g of tobacco was uncovered during two police searches.

It was deemed particularly unsafe by investigators, as it failed to comply with tobacco labelling regulations and displayed no health warnings.

The pair’s illegal activity was first discovered in December 2016, when a trained test purchaser was sold a packet of cigarettes which failed to comply with tobacco labelling regulations.

There had been a history of illicit tobacco sold from the Euro Star store in Falcon Road, Wisbech, with goods seized in October 2015 and March 2016.

Fatihi, 33, of Elm Road, Wisbech, insisted he sold the shop but was in fact responsible for the lease from June 2016 and has not produced any documentary evidence to suggest otherwise, Cambridgeshire trading standards said.

He was charged with eight offences relating to illicit tobacco, which included three charges for supplying cigarettes without a health warning contrary to the Tobacco and Related Products regulations 2016.

There were also four charges relating to cigarettes mistaken for a registered trademark contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994, as well as one charge for failing to comply with safety requirements under General Product Safety Regulations 2005.

He was sentenced at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court to 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £3,285 in costs for illicit tobacco offences after being found guilty on Wednesday, January 10.

Rafiq, 47, of Brookside Milton Keynes, previously pleaded guilty to six offences relating to the sale of counterfeit and unsafe tobacco at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on November 29 last year.

He was sentenced to 180 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay £4,500 made up of a fine, costs and victim surcharge.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s head of trading standards, Peter Gell, said: “This case highlights the dangers of illegal tobacco products and it should act as a warning to others who are thinking about taking part in this criminality.

“The pair abused their position in the shop and not only didn’t pay tax on the products but they were unregulated, which can be harmful to people’s health due to the high levels of contaminants.

“Tobacco smuggling costs the government more than £3bn a year in lost revenue.

“We do not accept this illegal market in our county and continue to work with HMRC to crack down on those who flout the legislation.”

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