Hillingdon Council successfully prosecuted a former trader who hid more than 60,000 counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes in a flat above his off-licence.
On Friday 4 December at Harrow Crown Court, Inderjit Singh, aged 57, from West Drayton was ordered to pay back £39,070.27 under the Proceeds of Crime Act and carry out 80 hours of unpaid work following a trading standards operation which uncovered the substantial haul. Singh had pleaded guilty to 10 offences relating to selling fake and smuggled tobacco.
Singh, the former owner of Falling Lane Superstore, West Drayton, hid most of the cigarettes in his flat above the shop in an attempt to prevent authorities from finding out about his fraudulent activity.
In total, 60,424 cigarettes and 19.8 kilograms of hand rolling tobacco were seized following the execution of a search warrant at the shop and flat in August 2018.
The haul had a street value of £39,070.27 – the amount Singh was ordered to pay back under a confiscation order.
Singh first came on the council’s radar in April 2018 when trading standards officers acted on reports of illegal activity.
Two undercover test purchase operations confirmed the business was supplying smuggled cigarettes, which were being sold for only £5 per pack.
Following the seizure of goods, the council revoked the alcohol licence for the business and Singh was removed as the designated premise supervisor. The shop is now under new ownership.
Cllr Douglas Mills, Hillingdon Council’s Cabinet Member for Community, Commerce and Regeneration, said: “Criminals are finding new ways of smuggling and hiding counterfeit goods. However our officers know what to look out for. Singh thought he was above the law and could get away with selling illegal cigarettes and tobacco – but thanks to the hard work of our officers, the law caught up with him.
“We’ve taken away his premises licence, and he must now pay back tens of thousands of pounds that he would have profited from unlawfully.
“Not only do counterfeit cigarettes put consumers’ health at risk, but it is unfair on the majority of businesses who are operating legitimately in Hillingdon. We will not hesitate to do the same to anyone else caught flouting the rules.
“They face losing their licence, getting a criminal record and being made to pay back profits obtained from the illegal sale of tobacco.”
In addition to paying back £39,070.27, Singh was ordered to pay costs of £5,000 and his business (when it was under his ownership) was fined £3,582. He must complete his community service within a year.
(Source: Hillingdon Council)