Hong Kong customs arrests woman over smuggling HK$100 million in electronic items marked as aluminium alloy

Hong Kong customs arrests woman over smuggling HK$100 million in electronic items marked as aluminium alloy

Hong Kong customs officers have arrested a woman on suspicion of smuggling after finding about HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) worth of electronic items marked as aluminium alloy on an ocean-going vessel preparing to depart for Malaysia.

The Customs and Excise Department on Wednesday said officers had inspected the vessel at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals on April 4.

“Through intelligence analysis and risk assessment, customs discovered that criminals intended to use ocean-going vessels to smuggle goods and thus formulated strategies to combat related activities, and identified an ocean-going vessel preparing to depart from Hong Kong to Malaysia for inspection,” it said.

Senior Investigator Cheung Yip-tai of the department’s syndicate crimes investigation bureau said officers found a large stash of electronic items packed inside a container declared to be transporting aluminium alloy.

The haul consisted of a large batch of unmanifested goods, such as brand-new integrated circuits, electronic waste and used items, including computer servers, routers and laptops, he added.

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Senior Investigator Cheung Yip-tai of the department’s syndicate crimes investigation bureau says the stash may have been potentially destined for mainland China. Photo: Dickson Lee

A source familiar with the case said the total market value of the items was estimated to be about HK$100 million, with a batch of 3 million electronic chips accounting for more than 90 per cent of the figure.

A 53-year-old Hongkonger who told officers she oversaw a local consignment company was arrested on charges of smuggling and violating waste disposal regulations, customs said.

In Hong Kong, anyone importing or exporting hazardous waste must first obtain a valid permit from the Environmental Protection Department.

Under the Basel Convention, an international treaty, the export of hazardous rubbish must also be approved by the importing country.

The woman has been released on bail, pending further investigation.

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Senior Investigator Cheung said further arrests were possible, with officers looking into the source of the seized items.

Electronic products and components were commonly smuggled to mainland China, which was believed to be a potential destination for the haul, he added.

Cheung said the used electronic products and waste could be burned or undergo chemical extraction to recover usable materials, processes which released harmful by-products and could pollute the environment.

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