Fake Wellcome coupon trader jailed for money laundering

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 4:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 February, 2013, 4:29pm

A pier worker who used fake supermarket coupons to launder HK$1.2 million was jailed for 21 months on Friday.

Using the phoney coupons, Chung Chun-kit, 31, bought goods from Wellcome supermarkets and stashed them in a storage space he rented. He would later give the purchases to his employer for shipment over the border, for resale on the mainland, the court heard.

Police found goods in the storage space including 331 bottles of wine and brandy and 295 tins of infant formula, together valued at HK$180,000, the District Court heard earlier. They also found 3,537 fake coupons there.

The court earlier heard the goods Chung had purchased were worth HK$1 million. He also made HK$200,000 from selling fake coupons online.

Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng said Chung had reason to believe the goods he bought with the fake coupons – and the money he obtained from selling them – were the proceeds of an indictable offence.

Chung should have become suspicious when Wellcome and Citibank – which issued the genuine coupons – set a five-coupon-per-purchase limit and asked users to show their credit cards.

These circumstantial factors would have led a reasonable man to doubt the authenticity of the coupons, the judge said. Chung made his purchases from early January to February 16 last year.

According to a background report, Chung showed no remorse for the two money laundering charges, insisting he was a victim in the case, the court heard.

The judge earlier acquitted Chung of four charges relating to the use of false instruments. He said the prosecution had failed to establish beyond doubt that he knew the coupons were bogus when he used and held them.

Outside court, the police said they were still probing the syndicate behind the scam, which hired people to use the fake coupons.

About 15 people, including Chung, had been arrested so far, but the others would not be charged because they had used so few coupons, police said.