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18-month prison sentence for Caerphilly shop owner caught selling illegal tobacco

Credit: Caerphilly Council

A Caerphilly shop owner has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for selling counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

Amanj Mawlod Tawfik, aged 36 of Bwlch Road, Cardiff was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment at Newport Crown Court on 26 January 2024.

His associates, Dana Nadir Kadir, 38 of Talywaun was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for 2 years, ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work, and attend 6 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days and pay Caerphilly Council £1200 costs.

Arshad Ahmad Rashid aged 46 of Cardiff Road, Caerphilly was ordered to undertake 100 hours of unpaid work and pay Caerphilly Council £1200 costs.

Between January 2018 and mid 2019 a business opened and operated from 65 Cardiff Road in Caerphilly town centre.

Officers from Caerphilly CBC’s Trading Standards visited the shop and seized small amounts of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

The shop, known as Caerphilly Market, was, on the face of it owned by a number of Limited Companies, apparently set up as a front for the sale of illegal tobacco. Once tobacco was seized, the apparent owners moved on, the company ceased trading and the premises closed for a short while until a new company was put in place.

In July 2019 Trading Standards discovered that Tawfik was living above the shop premises and believed that he was behind the businesses operating there.

Over the next 2 years officers continued to the monitor the premises and discovered 3 separate companies were set up and operated selling counterfeit tobacco, with matters coming to a head in June 2021 when CCBC trading standards officers and a regional trading standards team raided the premises and seized over 3000 counterfeit cigarettes and 3 kilos of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco-most concealed in a vehicle parked near the premises.

Tawfik, just prior to this operation was arrested by Gwent Police Officers on suspicion of other unrelated offences and a search of the shop revealed over 30,000 counterfeit cigarettes and 9 kilos of counterfeit hand rolling tobacco worth approximately £30,000.

Investigations by Trading Standards revealed that Tawfik had previously been convicted of selling counterfeit tobacco products, as had one of the directors of the companies (Kadir). It was also discovered that another director, RASHID, although never prosecuted, had been involved in the sale of illegal cigarettes.

All three were charged under the Fraud Act 2006, and despite originally denying dealing in counterfeit tobacco, all three pleaded guilty.

Cllr Phillipa Leonard, Cabinet Member for Planning and Public Protection said,

“This is a great result for the council’s Trading Standards Team and reflects the hard work of the officers involved in carrying out the investigation.

“This should serve as a warning to others that directors cannot hide behind the corporate veil of limited companies. We will continue to crackdown on traders who supply illicit and counterfeit goods in Caerphilly County Borough.”