22 scrap traders were fined by the court from $1,000 to $10,000 under the Weights and Measures Ordinance after pleading guilty to using inaccurate platform scales for weighing scrap paper between April and September this year. The platform scales involved were confiscated by the court.
The 22 scrap traders were successfully prosecuted by the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) following the conviction of four other scrap traders in early 2009. A number of other scrap traders recently found to have committed the same offence will be prosecuted shortly.
Between June and September, 2009, Customs officers, posing as vendors, sold scrap paper to scrap traders operating in shops and mobile vehicles in various districts. It was found that some of the scrap traders had manipulated their scales so that the weight shown was less than the actual weight by 10% to 38%, enabling them to pay less for the scrap paper.
Deputy Head of the C&ED's Consumer Protection Bureau, Mr Hong Hoi-lun, said at a press briefing today (November 2) that such an act of collecting scrap paper by deception was illegal, adding that Customs would not tolerate such unfair trade practices or any kind of short weighing activities.
"During the past few months, the C&ED has stepped up spot checks and taken proactive enforcement actions against short weighing activities of various businesses, including seafood restaurants and shops/stalls selling seafood, fruit, vegetables and meat, in addition to the scrap paper traders," Mr Hong said.
In the first three quarters of 2009, the number of successful prosecutions against short weight offences by various businesses totalled 102, representing a 42% increase from 72 in the same period in 2008.
Under the Weights and Measures Ordinance, any person who possesses, manufactures, supplies or uses for trade any weighing or measuring equipment which is false or defective commits an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $20,000. The false or defective weighing or measuring equipment is liable to forfeiture.
In addition, if any fraud is committed in the using for trade of any weighing or measuring equipment, the person committing the fraud commits an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $20,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Mr Hong appealed to the public to help Customs deter unfair trade practices by reporting any cases of short weighing to the department on the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.
Ends/Monday, November 2, 2009