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French and UK wine bottles seized at Hong Kong national airport

Published:  23 July, 2008

ASIA: Eight arrested for allegedly evading HK$1million (63,432) in import duties

Customs officers in Hong Kong have arrested five men and three women for allegedly evading import duties by using forged documents to under-declare wine prices, Hong Kong Government Information Centre has said.

More than 700 bottles of wine imported from France and the UK were seized at Hong Kong International Airport on 9 August 2007 on suspicion of under-declaration of the wine price.

The total wine value was about HK$2.3m with the estimated duty evaded amounting to HK$300,000.

Officers later raided the import company's Cheung Sha Wan office and warehouse seizing documents, suspected forged invoices with a lower price, documents with the real price, related remittance and payment records, 18 computers and a server.

The arrestees, aged 23 to 50, are three directors, two purchasing clerks, two shipping clerks and one accounts clerk from the company. They have been released on bail.

The company is believed to have under-declared wine prices in permit applications to the department by using forged documents. Initial investigations found that the total duty evaded in the last 12 months was about HK$1m.

Evading duty is a serious offence warranting a HK$1m fine and two years in jail. For cases of intentional evasion a magistrate can also impose a fine up to 10 times the amount of duty payable.