A company director has claimed illicit cigarettes sold from two of his shops belonged to “a Polish man” that owed members of his staff money.
Wiejska Chata – which means Country Cottage – and its sister shop Polski Sklep Pink, on New Hall Lane, admitted a total of four counts involving the sale of illicit tobacco products from under the counter, after being summonsed to Preston Magistrates Court.
The firm’s director, Dana Hassan, appeared before the court, but defending him, Miss Andrea Forrest said he had known nothing about the sale of illegal products from either of the stores.
She added: “He was unaware they were taking place but is the company director so is taking responsibility.
“His knowledge of the tobacco is that a colleague was owed money by a Polish man who instead of making a repayment, handed over cigarettes to hold until the money was repayed.
“Mr Hassan’s colleagues began to sell the illicit tobacco to friends.
“He will continue to ensure that this does not happen again and apologises for the offences committed.”
Prosecuting for Lancashire Trading Standards, Nick McNamara said a Polish speaking volunteer, who visited both premises on October 2, had bought products that did not comply with safety regulations because they did not contain the necessary health labels.
Eight day later officials went back and carried out test purchases and eventually seized several packs, including Jin Lings, which are specifically manufactured to be sold on the black market.
He said: “Some of the products were black market brands, and as such there are no controls over what goes into them, or what levels of harmful products they contain.
“When interviewed Mr Hassan said the products belonged to a member of staff and the company had not been aware of the sale.”
The company will be sentenced on April 2.