Worthing trader fined £1,000 for supplying illegal cigarettes and tobacco

'Working with partner agencies and specialist detection dog teams we will continue to take robust enforcement action against any shop selling illicit tobacco in West Sussex'

Moment of truth: sniffer dog “nose” there’s something suspicious in the van parked at the back of the Worthing shop

Release date: 21 June 2024

A West Sussex Trading Standards investigation has led to a Worthing trader being fined £1,000 for supplying illegal cigarettes and tobacco.

On Monday (17 June), Mr Shaswar Ranjbari, 24, pleaded guilty at Brighton Magistrates’ Court to offences relating to the possession of counterfeit and foreign-labelled tobacco and the fraudulent evasion of excise duty.

Magistrates decided on a reduced fine based on the trader’s early guilty plea and took into consideration the size of the seizure and his current earnings. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,957.65 and a victim surcharge of £400.

In September 2022, Trading Standards officers carried out a series of tobacco inspections across the Littlehampton and Worthing area, under Operation CeCe - a joint initiative between National Trading Standards and HMRC to tackle the illegal tobacco trade.

Officers, with a search dog, inspected Mr Ranjbari’s premises, Ideal Supermarket in Rowlands Road, Worthing. They did not find any tobacco inside the premises but, at the rear of the shop, was a van and the search dog indicated tobacco could be inside.

Two men at the shop denied knowing anything about the van and said they did not have its keys.

A locksmith opened the van and in the back were three bags of tobacco, believed to be illicit. In total, 382 packets of tobacco and cigarettes were seized. Samples were sent to the brand representatives, who confirmed all the products were either counterfeit, or genuine but manufactured to be sold in other countries, or genuine but non-duty paid.

Peter Aston, West Sussex Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Cheap and Illegal tobacco is a serious concern to public health and Trading Standards is working to disrupt the harmful supply into West Sussex communities. Working with partner agencies and specialist detection dog teams we will continue to take robust enforcement action against any shop selling illicit tobacco in West Sussex. We are committed to safeguarding the health of our communities and ensuring that those who flout the law face the consequences, whilst supporting honest businesses who do comply with the regulatory framework around tobacco products.”

In 2022 and 2023, Mr Ranjbari, of Lumley Road, Skegness, Lincolnshire, applied to Worthing Borough Council for an alcohol licence, but Trading Standards and Sussex Police objected on both occasions. The application in 2022 was withdrawn. In 2023, the application, in the name of Ali’s Supermarket Ltd, was rejected by Worthing Borough Council’s Licensing and Control Sub-Committee, who did not believe Mr Ranjbari would be able to uphold the licence objectives.

West Sussex residents are reminded to report any illegal or undesirable trading activity to our Trading Standards team online, or by calling the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on Freephone: 0808 223 1133.

You can also report an incident or issue to Trading Standards online: Report an incident or issue to Trading Standards - West Sussex County Council

Share this

Help us improve this website

Let us know if this page was helpful so we can make improvements. Add a star rating and leave your feedback below to show how useful you found this page.

Rate this page:
Clear star rating...
  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.

Share this