Hong Kong Customs smashed a transshipment smuggling case with the seizure of 9 million sticks of duty-not-paid cigarettes on August 14. The illicit cigarettes were worth about $22.5 million with a duty potential of about $15.3 million.
Through risk assessment, Customs officers of the Harbour and River Trade Division selected a 40-foot container declared to contain 253 packages of women's apparel and trousers from a river trade vessel for examination. The container was destined for Jamaica.
With the assistance of the mobile x-ray vehicle scanning system, Customs officers discovered that the consignment was camouflaged with 40 cartons of toilet paper and a total of 9 million sticks of illicit cigarettes were found at the back of the container. The unmanifested cigarettes were seized and follow-up investigation is still going on.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, smuggling is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years. In addition, under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, anyone involved in importing illicit cigarettes commits an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for two years.
A spokesman for Hong Kong Customs said today (August 16) that the department would continue to combat illicit cigarette activities to protect revenue. He urged members of the public to report any suspected illicit cigarette activities to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Thursday, August 16 2012