CRIME

Customs seize HK$24 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco

Officers seize HK$24m worth of cigarettes and tobacco destined for Australian market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 May, 2013, 5:52am

Customs officers smashed an international smuggling syndicate, seizing HK$24 million worth of counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco.

The 9.3 million cigarettes and 90kg of tobacco were found in a container that arrived in Hong Kong from Port Kelang in Malaysia via Singapore.

Wan Hing-chuen, who heads customs' illicit tobacco investigation unit, said the goods were apparently destined for Australia - "Made in Germany for the Australian market" was printed on the packaging.

"We believe the consignment might have gone to several more ports in a circuitous route before reaching Australia," he said, adding that the route was designed to evade law enforcers.

The customs declaration said the container held toilet paper. Shipping documents indicated its consignee was a trading firm in Shantou , Guangdong. "Our suspicions were raised because it was unusual for toilet paper to be exported from Malaysia to the mainland," said senior superintendent Lam Tak-fai of the city's Ports and Maritime Command.

Lam said the consignment was placed under surveillance after it arrived at the Kwai Chung container terminal on April 12.

After no one came to collect the consignment, customs officers opened the container for inspection on Monday and seized 955 cartons of counterfeit cigarettes that included copies of Deal and Reef brands.

No arrests have been made.

Lam said the department would work with the mainland and Malaysian authorities to investigate the case. It was the most valuable haul of fake tobacco and cigarettes found in the city for two years. It would have avoided duties here on the goods worth HK$16 million, customs said.