Supply chain · 9 August 2018

East London duo handed 18-year business ban for selling illegal booze

Shiraz Food & Wine was eventually liquidated in 2016

Two shopkeepers have been disqualified from running a business for a combined 18 years, after a Trading Standards raid uncovered 351 bottles of illegal alcohol held on store premises ready for sale.

Mohammad Akbar and Sheraz Ahmad were co-owners of Shiraz Food & Wine, a convenience store incorporated in August 2012 and located on the Hackney Road, close to Hoxton in East London.

The raid, which occurred in December 2014, was assisted by HMRC and the Metropolitan Police and was the was the largest seizure of illegal booze in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for many years, according to the Insolvency Service.

Officials decided the health risks posed to the public by fake alcohol and the unfair competition for law-abiding businesses in the borough were sufficient grounds to revoke the store’s licence.

Turnover significant fell in the following months and Shiraz Food & Wine eventually closed in 2016.

“Sheraz Ahmad thought he could cut a few corners when he bought the illegal booze.”

After the company went into liquidation, an Insolvency Service investigation discovered Akbar was the sole director of the company before raids took place and failed to prevent Ahmed purchasing illegal wine and spirits from a van driver before selling on to customers.

Read more: Operation Aphrodite: Thousands of fake goods seized from online shops

Akbar was disqualified for seven years and Ahmad for 11 years, effective from 6 August. The ban sees the pair banned from direct or indirect involvement – without court permission – in the “promotion, formation or management” of a business.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Tower Hamlets Council said:Whilst the potential health risks of fake alcohol are well known, businesses who sell cheap smuggled goods also create unfair competition for the majority of law abiding businesses in the borough.

“Tower Hamlets Environmental Health and Trading Standards team works closely with our partners in HMRC and the Metropolitan Police to seize illegal product from the market place and take action against those who flout the law.

“This latest action by the Insolvency Service follows one such successful joint operation against shops that were found to be trading illegally and shows our ongoing commitment to protect residents and honest traders alike.”

Anthony Hannon, official receiver at Public Interest Unit, said: “Sheraz Ahmad thought he could cut a few corners when he bought the illegal booze and Mohammad Akbar did nothing to stop him. But this could have led to serious consequences as there was no guarantee the alcohol was safe to sell to the public.

“Thanks to the joint working with our colleagues from the various agencies involved, we have secured substantial bans for the two bosses, preventing them from setting up another business and possibly doing the same again.”

Disqualification orders

According to the Insolvency Service, an individual with a disqualification order cannot:

  • Act as a director of a company
  • Take part, directly or indirectly, in the promotion, formation or management of a company or limited liability partnership
  • Be a receiver of a company’s property

A range of other restrictions are detailed on GOV.UK.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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