Government bid to auction confiscated goods online

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 October, 2013, 10:01am

The government is studying the feasibility of selling confiscated goods such as cars at "electronic auctions".

Two mainland provinces already sell such items on the Taobao site and at least one police force in Britain is using eBay to sell goods seized from criminals.

The Government Logistics Department said the study was at a preliminary stage and it had not decided what platform to use.

Auctions are held every two weeks in Chai Wan, where bidders must attend in person. The department raised HK$42.8 million last year from auctions, up from HK$13 million in 2011.

A spokeswoman attributed the sharp rise to sales of precious metals and more electronic goods and computer accessories. Some goods, such as ivory tusks, endangered animals and drugs, are not auctioned.

Zhejiang and Yunnan provinces started selling items and properties confiscated by courts last year on Taobao.

A search at the dedicated page for "court auctions" found a steel company was being auctioned with a starting price of 16.6 million yuan (HK$21 million) and an Audi car from 210,000 yuan.

In Leicestershire, England, a seized Audi R8 was sold for more than £70,000 (HK$869,000) on eBay last year. The police website says people can buy with confidence because "all items offered for sale are legitimate pre-purchased goods".

But Lau Siu-heung, who runs a recycling company and is a regular at auctions, said it would slow down the selling process.

"We would have to wait for people to file their bids," he said. "While this process can be done in minutes in an auction room, it could last as long as 30 minutes online. And many in the industry are not familiar with the internet and computers."

However, Leung Pui-lun, another recycler, said the process would allow the government to save money.

Lawmaker Charles Mok, of the information and technology sector, said selling goods online should be as safe as requiring bidders to attend in person.

"Buying things online with credit cards requires identity verification as well," he said.

Asked if he was worried about confiscated goods falling into the wrong hands, he replied: "If a criminal wants to buy things confiscated from him, he could send someone to bid for him in Chai Wan now. As long as he pays, I can't see any problem."