NILAI - Authorities here have foiled attempts by a syndicate to use Malaysia as a transit point to ship RM7.7mil (S$2.9 million) worth of counterfeit cigarettes to the middle east.
The syndicate which apparently produced the Gauloises Blondes brand counterfeits in a neighbouring country had attempted to ship out to Lebanon and Turkey some 154,500 cartons which were in transit at Westport when officers from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry seized them.
Department enforcement chief Mohd Roslan Mahayuddin said his team was tipped off by the United Kingdom-based owner of the cigarette brand, Imperial Tobacco Ltd.
"We seized the counterfeits in separate raids at the port on Jan 23 and Feb 5 respectively.
"The counterfeits were correctly declared as cigarettes and were neatly packed in boxes and each pack had 20 sticks," he said, adding that the brand was popular in Europe and the middle east.
The words "Made in the European Union" were also clearly printed on the boxes.
Mohd Roslan said representatives from Imperial Tobacco Ltd who were present during the raids had confirmed the products to be fakes.
"We were also told by the company representatives that they did not produce the cigarette anywhere in Asia.
He said preliminary investigations revealed that enforcement teams in two countries in the middle east had also foiled attempts by the same syndicate to smuggle the counterfeit product through their respective seaports in the last two months.
The case, he said, was being investigated under section 8(2)(b) of the Trade Description Act 2011.