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Saturday, Mar 02, 2024

Customs seize harmful e-waste worth $12m

Customs seize harmful e-waste worth $12m

Customs officers have intercepted multiple items of harmful electronic waste – said to be worth HK$12 million – plus computer parts and new television setup boxes and auto parts being smuggled from Hong Kong to Malaysia.
Along with the seizure they arrested a 57-yearold woman.

Officers said yesterday said the haul was uncovered in two containers on board a vessel bound for Malaysia at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals last Tuesday.

“Through intelligence analysis, officers identified two containers that were set to be shipped to Malaysia on February 21,” said Customs inspector Lai Siu-ming.

“X-Ray photographs showed the shape and density of the goods was inconsistent with aluminum alloy, which the person sending the containers had declared to the Customs Department.”

A total of 13 tons of electronic items including used computer backplanes, graphic cards and network interface controllers as well as around 1,600 television set-up boxes and 1,800 vehicle parts were found in the two containers.

“We asked the Environmental Protection Department to examine the waste, and it said that preliminary findings showed all of it was harmful waste, which the sender had not applied for. In other words, this batch of harmful waste was being exported illegally.”

Under the Waste Disposal Ordinance, it is an offense for anyone to import or export hazardous waste without obtaining a valid permit beforehand.

First-time offenders are liable to six months’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of HK$200,000.

For subsequent offenses there can be two years behind bars and a fine of HK$500,000.

“International transfer of waste is subject to the Basel Convention, and our efforts to prevent the export of this batch of waste showed Hong Kong’s commitment to obligations under the convention,” Lai said.

The Basel Convention is an international treaty that lays out stringent requirements for notices, consents and tracking movements of hazardous waste across national boundaries. China signed the treaty in 1990 before the convention went into force in 1992, so it applies to Hong Kong.

As for the 1,600 television set-up boxes, Lai said they appeared brand new and would allow users to have access to TV livestreaming and videos via internet connection.

The department is investigating whether these TV boxes are used for breaching copyrights.

The woman who was arrested in Sheung Wan last Wednesday is believed to be a director of a shipping company and is suspected to be connected with the case. She is now on bail and more arrests could be made as investigations continue.

The Import and Export Ordinance states it is a criminal offense to export any unmanifested cargo, punishable by seven years’ imprisonment and a fine of HK$2 million.

Citizens can report suspected smuggling activities to Customs via the department’s 24-hour hotline (2545-6182) or its dedicated crime-reporting e-mail account (crimereport@customs.gov.hk).
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