Medicine parts seized in raids on premises

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 July, 1996, 12:00am

Four premises of the venerable Chinese medicine manufacturer Eu Yan Sang (Hong Kong) have been raided by the Agriculture and Fisheries Department on suspicion of breaching rules on the protection of endangered species.

A spokesman for the department said a warrant was obtained for raids on June 24 and 27 and samples were collected from premises in Cheung Sha Wan, Central, Chai Wan and Tsim Sha Tsui.

'The samples seized were suspected to be items protected under the Animals and Plants (Protection of Endangered Species) Ordinance,' the spokesman said.

'The case is still under investigation. It is not appropriate to divulge further details.' Under Section 11 of the ordinance, a magistrate can issue a warrant to search or seize any premises believed to import, export or possess any scheduled species, controlled medicine or highly endangered species.

A company spokesman said a small quantity of ingredients used in making medicine was taken away for analysis.

'The officers said the law was getting tighter on the use of endangered species and the department wanted to ensure that Chinese medicine shops comply with new laws,' he said.

He said the samples included some shredded rhinoceros horns, unprocessed parts of pangolin and musk deer parts.

'We are waiting for further notification,' he said.

The list of endangered species and scheduled animal was amended in 1995, with the result that some previously allowed Chinese medicine fell into the outlawed category.

The company spokesman said some of the ingredients seized had been procured before the ban was in place and had been placed in shops to help staff identify them.

The company had obtained a licence to use musk deer.

The Eu family-controlled company, listed on the stock exchange, started business in 1909, selling over 30 different pill products from a mixture of ingredients such as ginseng, pearl powder and deer antler.

Among the more popular ones are Bak Foong pill for women and Bo Ying pill for infants.

News of the raid came weeks after a well-publicised and stormy annual general meeting in late May.

Some outspoken minority shareholders had prepared a long list of questions directed at the management and tried, in vain, to introduce three new directors to the board.

The questions covered primarily the ongoing trademark litigation, and one contentious test on musk deer which the company claimed had been unauthorised.

The confrontational meeting led to the removal of one of its non-executive directors, Charles Eu.

Subsequently, in mid June, those minority shareholders, as represented by Modern Bridge and San Jiu Enterprises Hong Kong, sold their stake to a company with non-executive director Robert Eu as one beneficiary.