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Customs tackles case of suspected false trade descriptions under civil compliance-based mechanism

23 December 2014


The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED), after seeking the consent of the Secretary for Justice, has accepted written undertakings made under the civil compliance-based mechanism of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance (TDO) by a vendor and an online group purchase company suspected to have supplied lip balm with false trade descriptions.

A C&ED spokesman said today (December 23) that the C&ED received a complaint earlier this year about the sale of lip balm through a group purchase company website with an advertisement depicting suspected false net weight and price discount information of the lip balm. Both the vendor and the group purchase company were suspected to have engaged in the supply of goods with false trade descriptions under Section 7 of the TDO.

The C&ED initiated investigation into the complaint. Both parties admitted to the falsity of the net weight and discounted price of the goods. They were co-operative in the course of investigation and proposed to undertake in writing not to continue or repeat the conduct concerned and would take remedial actions. Having fully assessed the proposal, the C&ED accepted the undertakings from the two parties for a period of two years under the TDO upon obtaining the consent from the Secretary for Justice. The undertakings have been uploaded to Customs' homepage (www.customs.gov.hk/en/customs_notices/undertake/index.html).

The spokesperson stressed that if they breach any terms of the undertaking, the C&ED might withdraw the acceptance of the undertaking pursuant to the TDO and commence investigation and instigate legal proceedings.

Under Section 7 of the TDO, it is an offence for any person, in the course of his trade or business, to apply a false trade description to any goods, or supply or offer to supply any goods to which a false trade description is applied. It is also an offence for any person to have in his possession for sale or for any purpose of trade or manufacture any goods to which a false trade description is applied. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.

Under Section 30L of the TDO, a civil compliance-based mechanism has been put in place to encourage compliance by traders and to settle matters concerned expeditiously. The C&ED, having regard to the nature, actual circumstances of the case and relevant factors, may accept an undertaking from the traders involved after obtaining written consent from the Secretary for Justice.

Members of the public may report any suspected violations of the TDO to the Customs 24-hour hotline 2545 6182.

 

Ends/Tuesday, December 23, 2014

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