HK Customs confiscates $18.5 million in crime proceeds from cigarette smuggling syndicate

16 May 2013

Hong Kong Customs, with the application of the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO), recently confiscated $18.5 million worth of realisable properties owned by three persons who were previously convicted in an illicit cigarette-cum-money laundering case. This is the first ever confiscation order against crime proceeds in an illicit cigarette smuggling case.

A Customs spokesperson said today (May 16) that the case underlined the determination of the department to tackle cigarette smuggling, while the successful confiscation of the crime proceeds with the application of the OSCO had amplified the enforcement efforts.

In the court case heard in 2010, 16 defendants were convicted on respective charges and were sentenced to between 15 and 66 months' imprisonment. Hong Kong Customs subsequently applied to the court for the confiscation of the realisable properties, currently valued at $18.5 million, of the mastermind, his wife and sister. The confiscation order was laid down in a judgement yesterday (May 15) at District Court.

Hong Kong Customs targeted a syndicate involved in importation and distribution of illicit cigarettes in Hong Kong in 2004. In-depth investigations revealed that the mastermind had made use of his own bank accounts as well as those of his wife and sister to launder proceeds from the illicit cigarette business. The 16 defendants in the case were charged for various offences under the OSCO, Dutiable Commodities Ordinance and Trade Descriptions Ordinance in 2008. The realisable assets, including bank deposits and real properties owned by the mastermind and his wife and sister, which amounted to $9.2 million at that time, were restrained by Hong Kong Customs.

The spokesperson reiterated the department's determination to tackle cigarette smuggling and enforce relevant legislation.

Ends/Thursday, May 16 2013

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