Jailed Sheffield shopkeeper to face more time behind bars after failing to repay £500k confiscation order

A jailed shopkeeper from Sheffield, who imported, stored and sold thousands of illegal cigarettes, will serve more time behind bars after failing to repay more than £490,000 he made from his crimes.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 4:47 pm

Karim Heabah, the owner of Baghdad Mini Market in Page Hall, was jailed for three years in December 2017 for excise fraud offences following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

The 30-year-old, of Jenkin Road, Wincobank, was ordered to repay £494,296 within three months at a confiscation hearing held at Sheffield Crown Court in July 2019 after it was ruled that he had benefited from a criminal lifestyle.

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Some of the illegal cigarettes seized from Heabah's shop in Page Hall

However, he failed to pay the full amount and, on January 13 this year, was sentenced to a further three-and-a-half years in prison at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court.

As of January 2021, Heabah has repaid £173,340 of the confiscation order with the outstanding amount currently totalling £355,021 including interest of £34,066 which continues to accrue until the amount is paid in full.

Gillian Hilton, Assistant Director of the Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC, said: “Heabah failed to repay his criminal profits and will now serve even more time in prison and still owe the money.

“HMRC will continue to pursue the small minority of retailers who smuggle, store and profit from illegal tobacco. We encourage anyone with information about tobacco fraud to report it online, or call our Fraud Hotline on 0800 788 887.”

Some of the illegal cigarettes seized from Heabah's shop in Page Hall

HMRC and Trading Standards made a number of tobacco seizures from Heabah’s shop between 2011 and 2016.

A batch of illicit tobacco goods were even found at his shop just days before he was sent to prison.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.