Counterfeit soap suspects arrested

Two female suspects, of Chinese nationality, were arrested and charged late yesterday afternoon in relation to the interception of the 20-foot container filled with counterfeit Waswas soap.

The container, containing fake products with an estimated value of over K34,000, was intercepted on the night of Thursday, March 16th, and unloaded at the Panamex site on Friday, March 17th.

The two foreign executives of Golden Apple Trading were brought in to the Customs office for questioning yesterday morning, taken to their warehouse at Golden Centre, then brought in for processing at the Top Town police station, accompanied by their lawyer.

Lae Metropolitan Superintendent, Chris Kunyanban, confirmed that the two women, who are out on K10,000 police bail each, have been charged with ‘counterfeiting trade marks’ under section 477, subsection 2(b) of the ‘Criminal Code Act 1974’.

The women’s passports and work visas have been confiscated by the Criminal Investigation Division.

“In my time, this is the first major (case) that has happened on Thursday coming until now, the arrest has been effected,” said Kunyanban.

“It’s not good, looking at the current economic situation of the country. With this coming on board now, if the manufacturing industry is putting people off from work, it will really affect the livelihood of people and police will be the ones going around, trying to sort out issues that will pop up as a result of people being laid off.

“I’m very mindful of counterfeit products because it’s having an impact on the social wellbeing of people and also the economy of the country.

“If you look at it, they are not paying taxes for some of those things and you look at the manufacturing industry, like the company that is now affected by these products, Panamex; they’re paying huge tax to the government.

“The government has to protect the manufacturing industry of this country because they employ a lot of Papua New Guineans.”

Kunyanban further said as per their preliminary investigations, there were some indications of tax evasion which police and PNG Customs will look into.

“We have foreigners coming in here, we have Chinese and other ethnicities, they have a tendency of doing this. And I’d like to call on the appropriate authorities to look at it, balance it out and do something right for this country.”

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