Hong Kong Customs tackles case of suspected false trade descriptions under civil compliance-based mechanism

28 Mar 2018

The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), after obtaining consent from the Secretary for Justice, has accepted a written undertaking made under the civil compliance-based mechanism of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) by a chain bakery suspected of supplying goods with false trade descriptions and possessing for sale or trade goods with false trade descriptions.

The C&ED earlier received a complaint against a chain bakery for supplying "Herbal Dried Orange Peel" and "Preserved Snake Dried Orange Peel" with false trade descriptions applied, in contravention of Section 7 of the TDO.

Customs officers conducted a test-buy operation and purchased the two types of dried orange peel from the chain bakery. After investigation, it was confirmed that the above goods did not contain the ingredients as suggested by their labels, namely tendril leaf fritillary or snake bile.

The company was co-operative in the course of the investigation and proposed to undertake in writing not to continue or repeat the conduct concerned. The trader also agreed to take remedial actions. After making a full assessment of the proposal, the C&ED accepted the undertaking for a period of two years under the TDO upon obtaining consent from the Secretary for Justice. The C&ED today (March 28) uploaded the undertaking to Customs' homepage.(www.customs.gov.hk/en/customs_notices/undertake/index.html).

A C&ED spokesman stressed that if the trader breaches any terms of the undertaking, the C&ED might withdraw the acceptance of the undertaking pursuant to the TDO, to be followed by investigation and legal proceedings.

Under section 7(1) of the TDO, any person who supplies goods with a false trade description in the course of trade or business, or is in possession of any goods for sale with a false trade description, commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Under Section 30L of the TDO, a civil compliance-based mechanism has been put in place to encourage compliance by traders and to settle the matters concerned expeditiously. Based on consideration of the nature, actual circumstances and relevant factors, the C&ED may accept an undertaking from the traders involved after obtaining written consent from the Secretary for Justice.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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