Optometrist fined for selling fake lenses

SINGAPORE - An optometrist was fined $30,000 on Wednesday for selling bogus contact lenses.

Neo Teck Soon, 27, had pleaded guilty last week to contravening the Trade Marks Act by selling 100 pairs of contact lenses that falsely bore the registered trademark of Freshlook Colorblends.

He also admitted to five charges of supplying the 100 counterfeit health products to an optical shop in Admiralty MRT station.

A district court heard the offences were committed in April last year when Neo worked at H2Hub optical shop in Bedok.

He is the second man to be punished for being involved in Singapore's first case of bogus contact lenses.

In February, freelance salesman Wong Chow Fatt, 52, was fined $12,000 for similar offences involving 30 pairs of counterfeit contact lenses.

The Freshlook Colorblends trademark is registered to Novartis AG, the parent company of Ciba Vision Singapore.

The case emerged when D'Optique, the optical shop that bought the 100 fake pairs from Neo, returned 82 boxes to Ciba Vision for lenses of different colours or degrees.

The company realised the boxes bore typographical errors, and tests by Ciba Vision confirmed that the lenses were fakes. Ciba Vision informed the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and investigations uncovered the offences.

Pleading for a lenient sentence, defence counsel Kertar Singh said that Neo did not commit the offences to make a profit.

His client had loaned $8,000 to Koh Peng Kiat, 30, the owner of Eye Cottage optical shop in Stirling Road.

To return part of the loan, Koh arranged for Neo to buy the 100 bogus lenses at $10 a pair, but Neo only needed to pay $250 as Koh would be footing the rest.

The fakes were then sold to D'Optique for $10 a pair. The $750 Neo earned was to be deducted from the money Koh owed.

Mr Singh said that the quality of the fakes was rather good and the bulk purchase price of real Freshlook Colorblends was about $12.70 a pair.

Koh is seeking to go on trial over similar charges and the court heard that Neo has offered himself as a prosecution witness.

Previous reports stated that the authorities recovered 122 boxes of fake lenses while eight pairs had been sold.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tng Sheng Rong told the court on Wednesday that the HSA had not received complaints arising from the use of bogus lenses.

The maximum penalty for supplying fake health products is a three-year jail term and a $100,000 fine while that for the trademark violation is a five-year jail term and a $100,000 fine.

The HSA gave a stern warning to the optical shops that bought the fakes from Neo and Wong.

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