Magistrates have ordered an Enfield business and its director to pay £14,140 in fines and costs after Council officers seized thousands of illicit cigarettes.
Enfield Council’s Trading Standards team visited Carpathina European Food on Bowes Road, N11 with partner organisations and sniffer dogs as part of a crackdown on illegal tobacco sales.
The team had received intelligence and tip offs and conducted test purchases, all of which indicated that the grocer and off-licence was selling unlawfully imported cigarettes where no excise duties or VAT had been paid, in packaging that did not carry labelling in English, or health warnings about tobacco products and smoking.
Enfield Council’s Trading Standard Team, Licensing Enforcement and Police Licensing Team, dog handlers and specialist sniffer dogs inspected retailers in Enfield as part of Operation CeCe, a joint initiative between National Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to crackdown the sale or possession of illegal tobacco. They visited Carpathina European Food as part of this operation.
On 21 December 2021, Carpathina Ltd and director Iulian Frasinescu, aged 53 years of Whitmore Close, N11 were found guilty at Highbury Magistrates’ Court on nine counts, of breaching the Standardised Packaging Regulations 2015, Tobacco Related Products Regulations 2016 and sections 134 and 144 of the Licensing Act 2003. Mr Frasinescu had pleaded not-guilty.
On 2 February 2022, Mr. Frasinescu was sentenced to pay a total of £7,390 (£4,950 fine, £2,250 costs and £190 surcharge) and the company was ordered to pay a total of £6,750 (£4,310 fine, £2,250 costs and £190 surcharge), totalling £14,140 (£9,640 in fines and surcharges and £4,500 in costs).
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, Cllr George Savva, said: “Trading Standards officers have informed me that the 6,480 cigarette sticks accounted for an estimated £2,286 of unpaid excise duty and VAT. This illegal activity undermines valuable public services and fuels organised crime while putting people’s health at risk. It is important that we continue to identify these activities and illegal products are removed from our high streets, leaving only safe, honest, hard-working businesses to operate.”
Wendy Martin, Director of National Trading Standards, said: “The trade in illegal tobacco harms local communities and affects honest businesses operating within the law. Operation CeCe is a National Trading Standards initiative in partnership with HRMC and is playing a significant role in disrupting this illicit trade and is helping to take illegal tobacco products off the streets.”
HMRC encourages anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco to report it online or call the Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.