US convicts two in China fake goods import scheme

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Two New York residents have been convicted of importing over US$100 million worth of fake luxury goods from China, in what the Justice Department on Friday called one of the biggest counterfeit cases in US history.

Chong Lam, 52, and Siu Yung Chan, 42, were found guilty Thursday by a jury in Richmond, Virginia, on several counts of importing counterfeit goods from China from 2002 to 2005, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a statement.

In the week-long trial, evidence showed Lam, Chan and co-conspirators "led a massive counterfeit goods operation that stretched from China to New York," Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in the statement.

The operation involved more than 300,000 fake luxury handbags and wallets from China under brand names Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Fendi, Chanel and others.

Lam and Chan "were controlling officers of at least 13 different companies in the United States and overseas, and operated at least eight separate factories dedicated to producing handbags, including enormous quantities of counterfeit bags," it added.

The DoJ said a 2008 raid by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Lam and Chan's Coco USA business in lower Manhattan netted 1,500 cartons of items whose corresponding value in authentic goods was "estimated to be over $100 million."

Lam and Chan each face a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison and $4.75 million in fines when they are sentenced September 15.

"The government is seeking forfeiture of the illicit proceeds of the enterprise, including funds that the defendants had transferred to bank accounts in the United States and overseas," the department said.

"This landmark conviction represents the latest success of ICE in targeting intellectual property thieves," said ICE Assistant Secretary John Morton.

The United States and other developed nations have frequently voiced concerns about widespread counterfeiting in China, believing it badly hurts companies in their countries.

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