Copyright piracy syndicate sentenced

28 May 2007

Three men, aged 26, 35 and 38 respectively, were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 31.5 to 73.5 months by the District Court today (May 28) for contravening the Copyright Ordinance and Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance. The 73.5 months' custodial sentence has been the heaviest sentence of its kind so far.

Three men were arrested during a Customs anti-piracy crackdown, codenamed "Operation Glacier" on August 4, 2005 for operating a pirated disc replicating workshop, two storage centres and three retail outlets. In the operation, customs officers seized more than 100,000 pirated discs, 16 sets of replicating machines, each installed with a CD-ROM and 8 disks writers, totally worth about $2 million.

After the operation, Customs applied for a Restraint Order under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance for freezing $4 million worth of assets suspected to be proceeds derived from sales of pirated discs under the control of the syndicate.

The Group Head of the Special Task Force of Customs and Excise Department, Mr Albert Chan, today (May 28, 2007) reminded that copyright piracy is a serious offence and offenders will be liable to severe punishment upon conviction, including forfeiture of all crime-related assets.

"Since the scheduling of the Copyright Ordinance under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance in 2000, this is the third copyright piracy case in which the offenders were prosecuted for money laundering," he said.

"The sentence passed at the District Court is encouraging to the anti-piracy work of the Hong Kong Customs. It has conveyed a clear message to the pirates that their illegitimate deals are not accepted by the community and will lead to severe punishment," he added.

In accordance with the District Court's verdict, Customs' Financial Investigation Group is preparing documents for making an application to the High Court for forfeiture of the frozen assets of over $1 million.

Including the above case, the Customs has invoked the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance in the prosecution of five cases related to infringement of intellectual property rights and the frozen assets amounted to $74 million.

Ends/Monday, May 28, 2007

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