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Police support HMRC operation

Telford shop owner sentenced for selling illegal tobacco

A shop owner from Telford who was caught selling illegal tobacco and cigarettes has been fined by Magistrates.

Shopkeeper Sibli Ulku, 53, sold non-UK duty paid cigarettes and tobacco at High Street Off Licence, in High Street, Wellington.

Ulku, from Telford, was caught with 17,500 cigarettes and 8.15kg of hand-rolling tobacco worth more than £7,431 in lost duty. He was fined £400 and £175 costs. HMRC will now pursue Ulku to recover the lost duty.

Around 30 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), with support from West Mercia Police and Telford and Shropshire Trading Standards, visited High Street Off Licence, along with four other shops and two self-storage units on February 1 this year.

Officers found cigarettes and tobacco behind the counter, in a storage area, and in a kitchen.

Nick Stone, Assistant Director, Fraud Investigation Service, HMRC, said:

"The sale of illegal tobacco and alcohol will not be tolerated by us or our partner agencies. Disrupting criminal trade is at the heart of our strategy to clampdown on the illicit tobacco market, which costs the UK around £2.5 billion a year, and the sale of illicit alcohol which costs the UK around £1.3 billion per year.

"This is theft from the taxpayer and undermines legitimate traders. Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco or alcohol can contact HMRC online or call our Fraud Hotline 0800 788 887."

The visits in Telford and Shrewsbury uncovered more than 25,000 cigarettes, 18 kilos of hand-rolling tobacco and nearly 3,500 litres of alcohol.

Information about any type of tax fraud can be reported to HMRC online at www.gov.uk/report-an-unregistered-trader-or-business.

The fine comes as West Mercia Police continues to run Protect. Protect is a campaign being run by West Mercia Police alongside a range of partner agencies to tackle serious and organised crime (SOC).

The broad-ranging operation covers four key areas of activity:

  • Pursue - prosecuting and disrupting those involved in SOC

  • Prevent - stopping individuals from becoming involved in SOC

  • Protect - increased levels of protection against SOC

  • Prepare - reducing the impact of SOC where it occurs

    ISSUED 4.30pm 061118 EH

Published 06/11/18