HK Customs and Korea Customs pledge to enhance cooperation on enforcement

17 Dec 2004

Building on past success to jointly suppress transnational crimes, Hong Kong Customs and Korea Customs today (December 17) pledged themselves to further enhance mutual cooperation. "This will be done through the establishment of an Immediate Notification System and also a contact point dedicated to dealing with cyber crimes," the Commissioner of Hong Kong Customs, Mr Timothy Tong, said.

Commissioner Tong headed a delegation to attend the 25th Customs Cooperation Conference with the Korea Customs Service held in Hong Kong between December 16 and 17. The delegation of the Korea Customs Service was led by Commissioner Mr Kim Yong-Duk.

Mr Tong cited an example of fruitful co-operation involving counterfeit cigarettes. "The detection of two containers of counterfeit cigarettes smuggled through Busan, Korea and Hong Kong to Italy in 2003 vividly demonstrated the powerful deterrent effects of cross-boundary co-operation between customs administrations," Commissioner Tong said.

In March 2003, two containers containing over eight million counterfeit cigarettes of a German brand were identified in Busan, Korea. The shipment was intended to be shipped to Hong Kong for transshipment to Italy. Based on intelligence co-ordinated by Hong Kong Customs, the shipment was successfully seized in Italy in April 2003.

"Our success in working with Korea helped to inspire 'Project Crocodile' - a region-wide campaign against cigarette smuggling - which we launched in Hong Kong in August 2004," Commissioner Tong added. Since then, based on intelligence provided by Korea and Hong Kong, another cross-boundary cigarette smuggling has already been cracked, involving about 3,580,000 sticks of cigarettes.

In the two-day conference, Hong Kong and Korea Customs reached an agreement to establish an Immediate Notification System to expedite enforcement actions. "This is extremely important especially for investigation into dangerous drugs and money laundering cases that require prompt customs intervention."

In addition, contact points will be set up between the two Customs Administrations to enhance co-operation in tackling cyber crime over the Internet on intellectual property rights. "It is timely to strengthen our co-operation with Korea Customs," Commissioner Tong explained, noting that Hong Kong Customs are actively stepping up co-operation with the movie industry. Hong Kong Customs are actively considering enforcement action against piracy activities using the peer-to-peer file sharing software over the Internet.

The conference offered a platform for Hong Kong and Korea Customs to discuss further avenue to enhance cooperation on law enforcement. The importance of regional and international cooperation to combat transnational crimes including drug trafficking, cigarette smuggling activities and protection of intellectual property rights was also highlighted.

Meanwhile, the two parties had agreed that a right balance must be maintained between cargo security and trade facilitation, updated each other on the recent strategic and technological developments in respective administration, and discussed various issues of mutual and regional concern.

Ends/Friday, December 17, 2004

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