Counterfeit number plate holders lead to prosecution

A Slough based business is hundreds of thousands of pounds out of pocket after being prosecuted for selling illegal number plate holders.

The investigation into Sola Sales Ltd began in June 2017, after a test purchase of a set of number plate holders bearing the BMW/Mini logos was made at the business premises on Farnham Road, by the council’s Trading Standards officers.

Once these items were confirmed as being counterfeit, a search of the premises was carried out in November 2017, when a total of 3,466 surrounds were seized bearing the trademarks of 22 different car manufacturers. A business computer was seized as well.

Although the two directors claimed they purchased the number plate holders from a reputable EU based company in good faith and were unaware the holders were an unlicensed product, a forensic analysis of the seized computer revealed that a large consignment of counterfeit number plate holders destined for Sola Sales, from their supplier, had been seized and destroyed by Customs Officers in Calais in March 2016.

The confiscation hearing was held at Reading Crown Court on 1 April 2022. Judge HHJ Nott stated she accepted the company was set up with a legitimate purpose and would sentence on the basis of recklessness and carelessness, rather than specific intent to commit financial crime.

The judge granted a confiscation order for the sum of £333,955.62, to Sola Sales Ltd and its two directors Marcin Wdowiak and Kazimiera Swiniarska, as well as the council’s prosecution costs and fines totalling £20,000.

Jaspal Singh, Principal Enforcement Officer for the council’s Trading Standards service and lead officer in the case, said: “I’m pleased the directors had previously pleaded guilty to the offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and now have to pay prosecution costs to SBC, as well as a significant amount in Proceeds of Crime money, received during the period of April 2014 to April 2018, when the sales of this product took place through Amazon and eBay marketplaces.”  

Published: 6 April 2022