Hong Kong customs net 135 boxes of copycat mooncakes

HONG KONG: Customs officers are no strangers to counterfeit red wine and pork luncheon meat. But as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches next week. They have seized their first mooncakes bearing the forged trademark of a traditional bakery in Yuen Long.

The Hang Heung Cake Shop is the latest brand to fall victim to counterfeiters after 135 boxes of double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes were seized from a cosmetics and beauty centre in Yuen Long.

Officers arrested the proprietor of the centre, a 50-year-old woman, on suspicion of selling mooncakes bearing fake labels to her clients.

The haul was believed to have been produced on the mainland and was worth about HK$20,000, the Customs and Excise Department said.

Michael Kwan Yuk-kwan, operations chief of customs’ intellectual property investigation group, said the ingredients of the fake Hang Heung snack were of a low quality but were not harmful to health, according to tests.

“The egg yolk in the real product is very big and tastes good, but is very small and rather dry in the fake mooncake,” he said.

The counterfeit product has a description of the ingredients printed on the metal box and the fireworks pattern on the lid is badly done.

A genuine box of Hang Heung double-yolk white lotus seed paste mooncakes sells for about HK$200, but the fakes are priced at only HK$120.

Kwan believed a very limited quantity had been sold in Hong Kong for the festival, which falls on September 19.

“Our investigation shows the suspect had just started selling them,” he said. “It is the first time mooncakes bearing a fake label have been seized in the city.”

The woman has been released on bail and has not been charged.

Under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance people who sell goods bearing a forged trademark face a jail term of up to five years and a HK$500,000 fine.

All inquiries about falsely labelled mooncakes should be directed to the customs hotline on 2545 6182.

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Navy officer held in Sri Lanka over people smuggling

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested a navy officer suspected of involvement in smuggling people in fishing boats to Australia.

Australia announced tough new measures in mid-July to discourage illegal boatpeople. Since then, local police have apprehended three boats and detained 300 Sri Lankans, including 56 women and 93 children.

The Sri Lankan officer was taken into custody following the discovery of 73 would-be illegal immigrants in a trawler off the island’s southern coast six weeks ago, a police officer said.

Four navy sailors were taken into custody last month following the trawler’s interception. But Lieutenant Commander Sanjeewa Annatugoda is the most senior officer to be arrested in connection with people smuggling, police said.

A navy official, who declined to be named, confirmed the officer’s arrest, and said internal investigations were underway. The latest arrest of a navy officer is an embarrassment for Colombo which has maintained that there is no senior level official collusion with people smugglers.

Australia has said it will transfer all asylum seekers to impoverished Papua New Guinea and Nauru. Even if their asylum claims succeed, they will not be settled in Australia. But Sri Lankan officials said the announcement did not appear to be a deterrent for many Sri Lankans hoping to start a new life in Australia.

Australia has been supporting efforts by Sri Lanka’s navy to improve its ability to detect people-smuggling boats.

Dubai Customs foils smuggling attempt of 2.7kg of marijuana

Dubai Customs inspectors at the Cargo Village seized 2.7kg of marijuana in a parcel crossing through Dubai in transit between two Asian countries.

Saeed Ahmed El Tayer, Director of the Department of Air Customs Centres in Dubai Customs, disclosed that the parcel sender attempted to hide the narcotic drug between clothing items (trousers and a jacket). When the parcel was passing through the x-ray device, it reflected abnormal density in this particular parcel. The inspector’s suspicions required a manual search of the parcel and its contents. During the manual search, a plastic sack filled with herbal seeds was detected inside the parcel. Dogs, which were used for the search, reacted to the cargo. An examination of the seeds conducted by the Dubai Customs’ Mobile Laboratory confirmed that the seeds are indeed marijuana.

Kyrgyz, Azerbaijani customs services to expand ties

The customs services of Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan vow to expand and strengthen cooperation. This became clear during a meeting between the head of Kyrgyzstan’s Customs Service Adamkul Junusov and Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hidayat Orujov.

The parties mentioned their active multilateral cooperation, which is carried out under the CIS Council of heads of customs services, World Customs Organization – via meetings of the heads of customs administrations of the WTO’s European department, the Customs Service Heads of the Economic Cooperation Organization and the Customs Cooperation Committee with financial support from the ABD (Customs Value Correction).

Bilateral cooperation with Azerbaijan’s Customs Service is based on an agreement between the customs services of Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan titled “On cooperation and mutual assistance in customs issues” signed on December 3, 2004 in Baku.

US customs agents raid western stores in Texas

NORTH TEXAS: UIS federal agents raided a large western store in Weatherford and a second location in Fort Worth. Teskey’s Saddle Shop was shut down, during an investigation that owners of the business said was related to tags on some of the merchandise.

Owner Michael Teskey said agents told him the raid was because some items they sold, didn’t always carry a tag telling the buyer it came from somewhere other than the United States. “We put a label on there that says Teskey’s, Weatherford, Texas,” he said. “And that’s it, with a price tag on it and a bar code.” Teskey said the tags never said the merchandise was actually made in Weatherford, or in Texas.

Customs of Kyrgyzstan, Russia agree to implement green corridor project

BISHKEK: Heads of Customs Services of Kyrgyzstan and Russia agreed to implement green corridor project.

Heads of Customs Services of Kyrgyzstan and Russia Adamkul Zhunusov and Andrei Belyaninov held a working meeting in Bishkek. The sides discussed implementation of the Protocol on customs control of goods, which are transported to Russia through the customs territory of Kyrgyzstan. The document was signed in July in Moscow. The parties agreed to accelerate the practical implementation of the agreement.

The main result of the meeting was an agreement to launch the green corridor project from September 1, 2013. The list of goods for the procedure includes Kyrgyz fruit and vegetable products.

Nigeria: Customs unveils Trade Facilitation Portal

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has made a public launch of the Nigeria Trade Hub Portal developed to improve ease of doing business in the country.

Comptroller General of the Service, Dikko Inde Abdullahi said the portal was equipped with tax simulator, web link to other government agencies, currency converter and 24-hour online availability.

He said, for a long time, the trading community has yearned for information to promote transparency in the conduct of business.

Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Customs, Sabo Muhammed while commending the Customs service said in the coming months, new laws would be enacted to usher in “a brand new customs service.”

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, said the application of the single window would help in modernization and simplification of the processes of international trade in Nigeria.