Blackpool shopkeeper fined after admitting having illegal cigarettes
A Blackpool shopkeeper has been sentenced after being caught with almost 2,000 illegal cigarettes.
Kaka Hassan, 32, owner of International Food Store in Central Drive, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Tobacco Product Duty Act 1979, after being found with 1,940 mixed brand non-duty paid cigarettes and 500g of hand-rolling tobacco in bags at the back of his shop. The total duty evaded was £724.
The stash was discovered during a search by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigators in June 2018. Hassan, of Keswick Road, Blackpool, said a friend asked him to mind the bags and he didn’t know what was in them.
The shop search was part of a wider operation to disrupt the sale of illegal tobacco across Blackpool, Wigan and Preston, which saw HMRC officers visit 12 retail and self-storage premises.
Hassan was ordered to pay £761 compensation to HMRC, a £190 fine, £300 costs and a £30 victim surcharge at Blackpool Magistrates Court.
An HMRC spokesperson said: “The sale of illegal tobacco will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year. This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders.
“We ask anyone with information about suspected tax fraud to report it online or contact our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”