Hutchison Whampoa

Six charged over milk powder conspiracy

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 February, 2012, 12:00am

Four employees from ParknShop and Watsons were charged along with two traders with conspiracy to defraud and bribery in a case involving baby milk powder.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption accused the six of conspiring to collect milk powder at the stores for sale across the border.

The accused are: Wu Ka-keung, 42, Lam Kwok-fai, 36, Anson Ng Ching-kin, 32 - all managers at ParknShop; Lau Koon-hung, 40, a shop supervisor at Watsons; and Cheung Shiu-chor, 51, and Wu Xiankuai, 40, both traders. They face a total of 12 charges, including four of conspiracy to defraud.

The six were arrested in May of last year. ICAC officers arrested 18 people, including employees of ParknShop, Market Place by Jasons and Watsons, and traders. More than 1,000 cans of milk powder were seized from the traders' homes.

The accused will appear in Kwun Tong Court today to make their pleas.

An ICAC spokesman said ParknShop and Watsons, both operated by A.S.Watson, implemented a policy that each customer was only allowed to buy three cans of milk powder from several popular brands each day during January and May of last year, when the alleged offences took place.

The policy was in response to a shortage of milk formula last year, as local mothers competed with mainland consumers for the products.

The conspiracy charges allege that the defendants conspired with other people to defraud ParknShop by generating false sales receipts purporting to show that only three cans of milk powder were sold to a customer at any one time.

The graft-buster alleges that, in fact, more than 4,000 cans of milk powder worth HK$750,000 were sold to Cheung and Wu Xiankuai.

The defendants have been released on ICAC bail, pending their court appearance today.