Shop owner must pay £3.3m – or go to jail

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­

AN ASH­FORD shop­keeper who sold fake shoes faces a decade in jail un­less he pays off a £3.3 mil­lion fine within six months.

Guar­cha­ran Singh had been charged with 43 counts of pos­sess­ing and sell­ing fake goods in his shop, Chock­ers in Ash­ford, and at a mar­ket stall in Folke­stone.

Po­lice and trad­ing stan­dards dis­cov­ered he made about £3.3 mil­lion from ped­dling his shoddy shoes and bo­gus bags.

The 41-year-old ap­peared at a con­fis­ca­tion hear­ing at Can­ter­bury Crown Court on De­cem­ber 15 and was or­dered to pay £3,293,796 or face 10 years in jail. Singh will still be re­quired to pay the money if he is jailed.

Pros­e­cu­tors said his hooky haul in­cluded lux­ury hand­bags, shoes and sun­glasses and was worth about £5,000. The coun­ter­feit stock was also found in his ware­house in Chatham, where he lives.

Det Insp Mark Fairhurst of the po­lice’s Se­ri­ous Eco­nomic Crime Unit said: “Any cash and as­sets which crim­i­nals have ac­crued through il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity can be re­cov­ered un­der the Pro­ceeds of Crime Act.

“Our foren­sic ac­coun­tants in­ves­ti­gated Singh’s ac­counts and ex­am­ined his life­style. It was clear that Singh’s life­style was not sup­ported by his le­git­i­mate busi­ness.”

Singh pre­vi­ously avoided jail when ear­lier last year he was given a twoyear sus­pended sen­tence. He was also or­dered to do 240 hours of un­paid work.

He was caught af­ter a two-year op­er­a­tion which in­volved of­fi­cers mak­ing pur­chases from his store, Chock­ers, in Mid­dle Row, Ash­ford High Street.

DI Fairhurst added: “This is the largest con­fis­ca­tion or­der achieved by Kent Po­lice and is a di­rect re­sult of Kent Po­lice and Kent Trad­ing stan­dards work­ing to­gether to tackle or­gan­ised crime. This un­der­pins the mes­sage that crime does not pay.”

The fake shoes, hand­bags, purses and jew­ellery have now been or­dered to be de­stroyed.

Kent County Coun­cil com­mu­nity boss Mike Hill said: “This case and the out­come is the re­sult of a huge amount of work on the part of Kent Trad­ing Stan­dards and the Kent Po­lice fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tors and I want to com­mend them for all their ef­forts. Peo­ple who think they can profit from th­ese crimes should re­alise we will do all we can to bring them to jus­tice and take coun­ter­feit goods off Kent’s streets.”

Singh was un­avail­able for com­ment when the Ken­tish Ex­press con­tacted Chock­ers.

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