Customs confiscates crime proceeds from piracy ring

4 Oct 2007

Hong Kong Customs has successfully made its first application to the District Court to confiscate crime proceeds of $1.2 million from the mastermind of a pirated optical disk (POD) syndicate.

The Confiscation Order under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO) was granted by the court on October 2.

A Customs spokesman said today (October 4), "The Confiscation Order granted by the District Court will send a clear warning signal to potential offenders. It serves to cut off the financial source of the syndicates, in addition to the penalty of imprisonment or fine."

"The case is encouraging to Hong Kong Customs in its fight against piracy."

Under an anti-piracy operation codenamed "Polaris" on October 13, 2005, Customs officers seized about 30,000 PODs from a replicating centre and an outlet of the syndicate.

Financial investigation on the syndicate by the Customs officers of the Financial Investigation Group (FIG) succeeded in tracing the crime proceeds of the syndicate.

A Restraint and Charging Order was granted by the High Court on March 15, 2006 for restraining the assets of the syndicate head, a 41-year-old woman. The offender was sentenced to imprisonment for 16 months on conviction of four copyright infringement offences on February 22, 2007.

FIG officers applied to the District Court for a Confiscation Order. Under the order granted on October 2, an additional imprisonment for 27 months will be imposed if the syndicate head fails to comply with the order.

Since 2004, Hong Kong Customs has applied OSCO to freeze the crime proceeds of seven syndicates - six in copyright piracy cases, including the operation "Polaris", and one in a trade mark infringement case. The total crime proceeds restrained were about $107 million.

Ends/Thursday, October 4, 2007

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