Two directors of an East London convenience store that sold illegal alcohol have been disqualified from running companies for a combined total of 18 years.
Mohammad Akbar (61) and Sheraz Ahmad (29) now of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, together ran Shiraz Food & Wine, a convenience store incorporated in August 2012 and located on the Hackney Road close to Hoxton in East London.
In December 2014 Shiraz Food & Wine was raided by Trading Standards, HMRC and the police, who found 351 bottles of illegal alcohol.
This was the largest seizure of illegal booze in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for many years and led to the store?s licence being revoked by the local authority.
However, this caused a significant reduction in Shiraz Food & Wine?s turnover, eventually leading to the convenience store?s closure in 2016.
After the company went into liquidation, an investigation by the Insolvency Service discovered that Mohammad Akbar was the sole director of the company before the raids took place and failed to prevent Sheraz Ahmad from purchasing the illegal wine and spirits from a van driver before selling them in the store.
As a result, the Secretary of State accepted disqualification undertakings from both Mohammad Akbar and Sheraz Ahmad.
In his undertaking, Mohammad Akbar did not dispute that his inaction facilitated Sheraz Ahmad, who was not a shareholder or a formally appointed director, to cause Shiraz Food & Wine to trade with a lack of commercial probity.
And Sheraz Ahmad did not dispute in his undertaking that he caused Shiraz Food & Wine to trade with a lack of commercial probity.
Effective from 6 August, Mohammad Akbar is disqualified for 7 years and Sheraz Ahmad is banned for 11 years, and the pair cannot directly or indirectly be involved, without the permission of the court, in the promotion, formation or management of a company.
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.