Chelmsford: Club fined £16,000 for counterfeit vodka

Maldon and Burnham Standard: Chelmsford: Club fined £16,000 for counterfeit vodka Chelmsford: Club fined £16,000 for counterfeit vodka

A club has been fined more than £16,000 after counterfeit alcohol was found on its premises.

Mohito Limited, which trades as Candy Club, a bar in Barrack Square in Chelmsford, Essex, was taken to court on Tuesday.

Its director Geoffrey Livesey appeared in front of Chelmsford Magistrates' Court charged with offences contrary to the General Food Regulations 2004, Spirit Drinks Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

The company faced charges contrary to the General Food Regulations 2004, Spirit Drinks Regulations 2008, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and the Trade Marks Act 1994.

The Candy Club was visited by Essex County Council’s Trading Standards officers on the 25 October 2012 following intelligence. All of the suspected stock was seized and found to be counterfeit. It was established that the samples were deficient in alcohol and that the alcohol was industrial. The vodka had been purchased from a van/driver calling at the back door of the club.

Geoffrey Livesey was sentenced to 250 hours unpaid work in the community and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £60.

The company pleaded guilty to 4 of 6 charges and was fined £10,000. An application for costs amounting to £6358.66 was granted by the court, as was an application for forfeiture and destruction of the seized goods. The company was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120. *The total penalty for the company was £16,478.66.

Cllr Roger Walters, Cabinet Member for Trading Standards, said: “This is a very successful outcome for Trading Standards and for Essex residents. This man was willing to risk the health of his customers by selling counterfeit vodka. Businesses should ensure that they purchase goods from traceable and reputable wholesalers.”

As shoppers prepare to stock up on alcohol to celebrate the festive season, the team is warning that bottles of counterfeit alcohol and tobacco products are in circulation.

Consumers should only purchase items such as alcohol and tobacco from stores that they know and trust. Businesses should also ensure that they purchase goods from traceable and reputable wholesalers and are not tempted to buy from the “man in a van” who may call at their premises offering cheap alcohol.

Cllr Roger Walters said: “When purchasing alcohol make sure that it is from a reputable source. A cheap deal that seems too good to be true often is and in this case it could lead to a dangerous effect to your health.”

Counterfeit alcohol and tobacco products are often produced under poor manufacturing conditions and the safety and content of these products cannot be guaranteed.  In most cases the counterfeit vodkas are made with industrial alcohol as opposed to alcohol of agricultural origins.  Industrial alcohol is often used in antifreeze and cleaning products and is not suitable for human consumption.

Additionally there are vodka products on the market that aren’t official brands and often these products do not comply with food legislation as they do not contain enough alcohol to be classified as vodka and the manufacturer cannot be traced as there is no name or address of the producer on the bottle. 

In most cases the counterfeit vodka that has been seized does not pose a threat to human health. However, nationally these products have been found to contain harmful contaminants which could have serious health effects, something Essex County Council’s Trading Standards is keen to prevent.
 

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