Two suppliers plus two directors and one manager convicted of supplying for sale surgical masks with false trade descriptions

8 May 2023

‚ÄčA supplier and its director and manager were convicted at the Eastern Magistrates' Courts today (May 8) for supplying for sale surgical masks with false trade descriptions applied, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO). The supplier was fined $80,000 while the director and the manager were sentenced to six months and two weeks' imprisonment and 11 months' imprisonment respectively.

On the other hand, the upstream supplier involved in the case and its director were convicted earlier at the Kwun Tong Magistrates' Courts. The suppler and the director was fined $80,000 and was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment respectively. About 5.9 million surgical masks involved in the case were also confiscated.

Hong Kong Customs received information from a surgical mask brand owner in mid-2020 alleging that surgical masks with a suspected false claim on the manufacturer were being supplied to the Government Logistics Department. After investigation, Customs found that the claim on the manufacturer was false and took immediate action. The offices of a supplier and its upstream supplier in Hung Hom and Kwun Tong were searched and a batch of computer devices and documents related to the case were seized.

Customs then sent samples of the surgical masks involved in the case to a laboratory for tests. The test results revealed that the manufacturing standard of one lot was different from what had been declared on the packaging boxes, in contravention of the TDO.

Customs welcomes the sentence. The custodial sentence imposed in this case was the heaviest among the unfair trade practice cases involving goods. It is believed that the sentence has achieved a considerable deterrent effect and has given a clear warning to traders adopting unfair trade practices.

Customs reminds traders to comply with the requirements of the TDO. The department will continue to crack down the supply of goods with false trade descriptions to protect consumers' interests.

Under 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.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).

Ends/Monday, May 8, 2023

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