Fake coin trade lands pair in jail

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 July, 2006, 12:00am

A jobless chef and a shopkeeper were yesterday jailed for dealing in counterfeit coins bought in a Shenzhen shopping centre.

The District Court heard that Sin Kwok-fai, 47, bought 1,068 coins in batches of about 200 at the Dongmen Commercial Centre, paying $3 each for fake $10 coins and $1 each for fake $5 coins.

Sin, a former chef at five-star hotels, sold most of them to shopkeeper Chan Wing-keung, 55, and used the rest on public transport and to pay debts.

The court heard Sin had sold Chan coins with a total face value of $7,000 in three transactions.

Sin, who pleaded guilty in November to four counts of passing or tendering as genuine, possessing or controlling counterfeit of a protected coin, was jailed for 26 months. Chan, who pleaded guilty to one count of a similar charge, was jailed for six months.

That Sin brought the coins to Hong Kong from a different jurisdiction more than once, said Depu-ty Judge Albert Wong Sung-hau, made his offences more serious.

After bringing the coins to Hong Kong from Shenzhen, Sin stored them in a metal box near a bicycle parking rail at Fanling station.

The court heard Sin was employed by five-star hotels in Malaysia and Thailand but was sacked for failing to cope with the work stress. He returned to Hong Kong in 2003 and had been jobless since. He said he committed the offences out of financial hardship.