Smuggling of dutiable goods liable to prosecution

4 Feb 2005

A spokesman for the Customs and Excise Department today (February 4) reminded local residents returning from short cruise trips to declare to Customs officers the possession of dutiable goods, including cigarettes, or they are liable to prosecution.

In 2004, Customs officers of Ports and Maritime Command had conducted 129 clearance operations on the incoming passengers from short cruise trips, leading to the seizure of 256,988 dutiable cigarettes that carried market value of $385,482 and duty potential of $206,618.

Customs officers had processed 68,030 passengers returning from short cruise trips. Of them, 762 were found in possession of dutiable cigarettes.

"To strengthen the government's work on protection of revenue on dutiable commodities, Customs officers will always stay vigilant and continue to take enforcement actions against smuggling activities. They will step up checks on incoming passengers in particular to verify their eligibility for the duty-free concessions with a view to suppressing smuggling of dutiable cigarettes during the Lunar New Year holidays," the Customs spokesman said today (February 4).

Under the Dutiable Commodities Ordinance, any local residents who have spent less than 24 hours outside Hong Kong are not eligible for any duty free concession upon return.

According to the Ordinance, any person who is convicted of importing, exporting, possessing or dealing with any dutiable goods is liable to a maximum fine of $1 million and two years' imprisonment.

Where a person having committed an offence with intent to avoid payment of duty, he may, in addition to the fine or imprisonment provided for the offence, be imposed a fine not exceeding ten times the amount of duty payable on the dutiable goods.

Ends/Friday, February 4, 2005

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