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