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Businessman nabbed in fake alcohol bust

Buth Reaksmey Kongkea / Khmer Times Share:

In a first, Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday charged a Chinese businessman accused of selling more than 4,000 litres of fake alcohol in the capital amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the Kingdom.

Major Nuon Rithy, deputy chief of the Interior Ministry’s Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention Office, identified the accused as Li Wamin, 53, the owner of a company which deals with the distribution of imported alcohol and sanitisers.

Li was charged with “selling and distributing prohibited and counterfeit alcohol, methanol and other unregistered items” under the Law on Combating Counterfeit Medicines. If convicted, he faces between six months and two years in prison.

The motion marks the first time a seller has been officially charged for selling counterfeit alcohol since the pandemic began, said Maj Rithy.

Li was arrested at his residence Friday through the joint operation of authorities from the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention, the municipal police and municipal court deputy prosecutor Soeun Monirath.

“He illegally imported the counterfeit products from a neighbouring country. The products were meant to be distributed in the Cambodian market while the Kingdom deals with the pandemic,” said Maj Rithy.

Following the arrest, police seized a total of 4,000 litres of fake alcohol, 300 litres of methanol and other unregistered items from Li’s rental house.

The accused was sent to prison pending trial while his shop was temporarily closed and the seized products sent for disposal.

A report from the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention revealed police have so far seized more than 650,000 litres of counterfeit alcohol-based hand sanitisers across Cambodia since the pandemic began.

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