CUSTOMS

Caught! Hong Kong fair exhibitor arrested as she sold counterfeit jewellery to undercover official

Customs seizes nearly 90 necklaces and pairs of earrings worth HK$56,000 and resembling Van Cleef & Arpels products from booth at annual show

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 7:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 19 September, 2016, 10:58pm

An exhibitor was arrested on the final day of Hong Kong’s international jewellery show in Wan Chai after she allegedly sold suspected counterfeit products to an undercover customs officer at her booth on Monday afternoon, the Post has learned.

Nearly 90 items that allegedly copied product designs by French-based luxury brand Van Cleef and Arpels were confiscated at the suspect’s booth at the Wan Chai venue of the Hong Kong Jewellery and Gem Fair in the Convention and Exhibition Centre. The arrest was made at about 3pm Monday, and the seized goods included 59 pairs of earrings and 29 necklaces.

A source said a pair of counterfeit earrings was sold for about HK$500 at the booth “but the genuine one was worth about HK$10,000”.

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Customs said the total value of the seized goods was about HK$56,000.

The source said preliminary investigation showed the fakes did not bear the brand’s trademark logo, but they copied the design of its genuine goods.

Officers from Customs’ intellectual property investigation group were investigating the source of the counterfeit products and how many items had been sold from the booth during the jewellery show.

The suspect, 29, is a Korean national and was understood to be an exhibitor at the fair as well as the owner of a Korean company that hired the booth to find buyers in Hong Kong.

She was arrested on suspicion of selling goods with false trade descriptions under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Violators of the ordinance face a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a HK$500,000 fine.

Hong Kong is an international showcase and no counterfeit products are allowed to be on display or sold through any exhibition
Customs source

On Monday evening, the suspect was being held at the North Point headquarters of the Customs and Excise Department and had not been charged.

The undercover operation was mounted after the department received a complaint from the copyright owner and sought urgent legal advice from the Department of Justice.

“Hong Kong is an international showcase and no counterfeit products are allowed to be on display or sold through any exhibition,” the source said. “We will continue to carry out stringent enforcement actions to combat infringing activities and uphold the city’s reputation as a shopping paradise for genuine goods.”

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Monday was the final day of the seven-day jewellery show held at two venues: the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and AsiaWorld-Expo at Hong Kong International Airport.

The AsiaWorld-Expo segment ran from Tuesday to Saturday last week and showcased raw materials including diamonds, loose gemstones and pearls as well as equipment and packaging. The Wan Chai event, which ran from Thursday to Monday, highlighted fine finished products.

More than 3,600 exhibitors from 55 countries and regions participated. About 58,000 buyers from around the world had been expected to attend.