Westminster Council have launched an investigation into an alleged tax scam being carried out by dozens of American sweet shops on Oxford Street.
According to the Mail Online, 30 American-themed candy stores in the West End are being investigated over concerns they have failed to pay £7.9 million in business rates.
Westminster Council claim the shops avoid paying full business rated by subletting the property from an intermediary firm, rather than the freeholder or long leaseholder.
In a statement, the council have said the shops do not appear to be “commercially viable”.
They added: “We believe these properties are used to avoid business rate bills and possibly commit other offences.”
Following complaints from customers, Westminster Council have seized around £474,000 of counterfeit and illegal goods from the American candy stores in the past six months.
In one week, they found almost 4,500 disposable vapes with excessive levels of nicotine or not conforming to UK standards.
Adam Hug, the council leader, said: “Anyone walking down Oxford Street is struck by the ever expanding number of US style sweet shops and poor quality souvenir outlets.
“They are not only an eye sore; they are a threat to the status and value of what is supposed to be the nation’s premier shopping street.
“The problem is owners of buildings are turning a blind eye to those who sublet them as it means they are not liable for business rates.
“We will be stepping up pressure on landlords to make it clear they are responsible for Oxford Street being overrun with these kinds of stores.”
[Image: gowithstock via Shutterstock]