A Kent couple, whose chain of shops were repeatedly found selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco, have been sentenced after they were investigated by HM Revenue and Customs.
Tatjana Cekanova, 60, ran the Baltic Branch Limited food store chain in Kent, with Andrius Rickus, 39.
Their business premises were in Dover, Ramsgate and Margate.
Between August 2011 and July 2013, thousands of illegal cigarettes and 13.7kg of hand-rolling tobacco were seized from the shops by HMRC officers.
They were arrested in July 2014 and their Ramsgate home searched, where 40,000 non-UK duty paid cigarettes and 10kg of illicit hand-rolling tobacco were seized, as well as £21,277 and €2,100 in cash.
Searches of the shops found CCTV footage of illicit cigarettes being sold from under the counter, and it was identified that from the HMRC visits and searches alone, £19,901 had been lost in evaded duty.
“This couple thought nothing of stealing public money to line their own pockets by selling illicit cigarettes and tobacco from under the counter.