A store in Manchester, found guilty of selling counterfeit versions of luxury handbags, has been handed down one the largest fines the region has seen, as it struggles with a “huge growth” in counterfeit goods being sold by criminal gangs as legitimate stores remain closed.
Jamie Bags in Woolley Street was fined more than £40,000 after a raid on the premises by Manchester City Council Trading Standards, Greater Manchester Police and brand representatives, uncovered almost 1,000 counterfeit versions of luxury handbag brands including Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Bulgari and Hello Kitty.
Company director Giacomo Chen was interviewed under caution by the Council following the raid and the company later entered a guilty plea in September 2020, admitting four offences of having counterfeit goods in possession for supply.
Sentencing at Manchester Crown Court last week, His Honour Judge Nicholas Dean QC fined the company £37,500, and ordered costs of £3,843.88 to be paid. A forfeiture order was also made.
Commenting on the fine, UK Anti-Counterfeiting Group director general Phil Lewis said: “While legitimate shops on the high street have been forced to close their doors, we are witnessing a huge growth in counterfeit goods being sold by predatory criminal gangs operating from backstreets and illicit markets.
“UK Government figures reveal that counterfeiting in the UK is now worth £13.6bn, resulting in 60,000 lost jobs and £3.1bn in lost taxes which could be used to support our crucial frontline public services.
“Instead, it is falling into criminal hands and funding other forms of illicit trafficking, such as people, drugs and weapons.
“This latest achievement by Trading Standards at Manchester City Council not only protects our communities but sends a clear message to the criminals involved that black market profiteering will not be tolerated.”
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods for Manchester City Council added: “This is a fantastic result for our Trading Standards and Legal teams and represents more than two years of hard work to ensure this conviction was secured.
“Counterfeit trading is an offence that we take very seriously, knowing that it is a gateway to even more serious crimes such as drug dealing, human trafficking and violent crime.
“Money that flows through counterfeit shops often ends up in the hands of organised criminals which is why we are determined to cut off these sources of revenue.
“This is one of the largest financial penalties we have seen in recent times and I hope it sends a message that selling fake goods is not something you can get away with.”