A London council is investigating US-themed candy stores on the city’s main shopping drag for millions of pounds in tax evasion and has seized over half a million pounds in counterfeit chocolate bars and vapes.
Westminster City Council said in an emailed statement Wednesday it had confiscated over £100,000 ($121,000) in goods following a raid on Oxford Street’s US sweet shops earlier this week, bringing the total seized to as much as £574,000 over the past six months. The hauls included fake Wonka Chocolate Bars and illegal vapes that contain exorbitant amounts of nicotine.
The council said it was also looking into £7.9 million worth of business tax from 30 of the shops on the bustling shopping hub and is planning further enforcement action to tackle the problem.
American candy stores have become a feature of British high streets over the past few years, with many popping up around key shopping and tourist areas. The shops sell US products that are not widely available in the UK
Adam Hug, the leader of Westminster City Council, said the rise of the sweet and poor quality souvenir shops in the country’s premium shopping location is down to landlords turning a “blind eye” to those that sublet them as it takes away their responsibility for business rates.
“The people selling overpriced and often out-of-date sweets are cheating the UK taxpayer and very often swindling their customers into the bargain,” Hug said.