Shop owner jailed over counterfeit cigarettes

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A BUSINESSMAN from Hull has been jailed for four months for possessing illegal tobacco and counterfeit DVDs.

Ari Safay, 26, admitted four offences under tobacco product regulations, which prohibit the sale of foreign-labelled cigarettes in the UK, and seven trademark and video recording offences for the possession for sale of counterfeit DVDs and tobacco.

The prosecution followed a joint investigation by trading standards officers and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs inland detection team.

Illegal foreign-labelled cigarettes were found during four inspections of Olivia European Supermarket in Beverley Road, and B&K Kubus in Spring Bank. Further inspections of another business he ran, Skokrotka European Supermarket, in Beverley Road, revealed more illegal tobacco on the premises.

In total, 1,080 packets of foreign cigarettes labelled with “L&M”, “Jin Ling” and “Marlborough” brands were seized after being concealed in different locations in the shops. A further four packets of hand-rolling tobacco labelled “Golden Virginia” were also found and identified as counterfeit. Trading standards officers found 170 counterfeit DVDs at two of the shops.

Safay was warned to stop selling illegal cigarettes on two occasions, but carried on and was caught again twice. He was jailed at Hull Magistrates’ Court and ordered to pay £2,450 costs.

Maddy Ratnett, from HMRC, said: “Low-cost tobacco and alcohol products can often seem very attractive to local people, lured into purchasing them at what seem like bargain prices. However, the truth is these goods have been smuggled and are unregulated often containing harmful chemicals.

“Those involved are not concerned if they are selling to children and underage young people and the illicit trade has a devastating impact on legitimate retailers and the local community.”