A 51-year-old woman, and two men aged 22 and 26 respectively, were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 33 to 55 months by the District Court today (August 28) for contravening the Copyright Ordinance, Trade Descriptions Ordinance, and Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance.
They were arrested during a Customs anti-piracy crackdown, codenamed "Operation Spur" on July 7, 2004 for operating a pirated disc replicating workshop, three storage centres and eight retail outlets. In the operation, customs officers seized more than 50,000 pirated discs, three sets of replicating machines, 11 sets of computers and two sets of high-speed copiers/printers, totally worth about $1.5 million.
After the operation, Customs unprecedentedly applied for a Restraint Order under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance for freezing $27 million worth of assets suspected to be proceeds derived from sales of pirated discs under the control of the syndicate.
The Group Head of the Special Task Force of Customs and Excise Department, Mr Albert Chi-hung Chan, today (August 28) reminded that copyright piracy is a serious offence and offenders will be liable to severe punishment upon conviction, including forfeiture of all crime-related assets.
"Since the scheduling of the Copyright Ordinance under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance in 2000, this is the first copyright piracy case in which the offenders are prosecuted for money laundering," he said.
"The sentence passed at the District Court is encouraging to the anti-piracy work of the Hong Kong Customs. It has conveyed a clear message to the pirates that their illegitimate deals are not accepted by the community at large and will lead to severe punishment," he added.
In accordance with the District Court's verdict, Customs is preparing documents for making an application to the High Court for forfeiture of the frozen assets of $27 million.
Subsequent to the above case, the Customs has invoked the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance in the prosecution of five more cases related to infringement of intellectual property rights and the frozen assets amounted to $74 million.
Ends/Monday, August 28, 2006