Fake lenses: Conviction overturned

THE High Court yesterday overturned the conviction of an optometrist who was fined $38,000 for helping to supply bogus contact lenses to two others.

In acquitting Mr Koh Peng Kiat, 32, Justice Choo Han Teck said that though he facilitated the committing of the offences, there was no evidence he knew the lenses, which were supplied by another person, were counterfeit.

He also disagreed with the view of the district judge, who said the optometrist should have checked the source of the lenses, which were well below market price. Justice Choo said there was "no reason" for Mr Koh to suspect the lenses were counterfeit and check with manufacturer Ciba Vision. In the absence of a market practice, he added, optometrists cannot be expected to check all purchases with the registered trademark owners.

There is no further avenue of appeal in the case, but the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) can raise the matter to the apex court to make a ruling if it believes a question of law of public interest has arisen.

Contacted for comment, a spokesman for the AGC said: "The prosecution is studying the judgment carefully and considering whether there is a need to file a criminal reference to the Court of Appeal."

Mr Koh faced two charges under the Trade Marks Act for helping Mr Neo Teck Soon and Mr Wong Chow Fatt come into possession of bogus lenses. He also faced 12 charges under the Health Products Act for arranging to supply them with fake lenses.

Mr Koh told the two men that he had a contact called "Ah Seng" who could supply the Freshlook ColorBlends lenses at a price below the market price of $22 a box.

Mr Neo eventually bought 100 boxes at $10 each while Mr Wong bought 30 boxes at $8 each.

Mr Neo was fined $30,000 and Mr Wong $12,000 in 2012 for selling the bogus lenses to optical shops. The shops that bought the fakes were given a stern warning.

The offences, Singapore's first case of bogus contact lenses, emerged when the shop that bought the fakes from Mr Neo returned most of them to Ciba Vision for lenses of different colours or degrees. Tests later confirmed they were fakes.



This article was first published on September 6, 2014.
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