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February 26, 2013

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First online store smugglers sent to prison

A SHANGHAI court has for the first time sentenced online shopkeepers to prison for smuggling.

Two 30-year-old women smuggled 780 items including cosmetics and watches from South Korea into Shanghai and evaded tariffs of nearly 180,000 yuan (US$28,872).

The pair, Fan Lin and Liu Xinxin, each got one year in prison with an 18-month reprieve, the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People's Court ruled yesterday. Fan was fined 100,000 yuan and Liu 81,000 yuan.

Prosecutors said the two Shanghai women owned an online store at, China's leading e-commerce website. They purchased overseas goods for clients and made money with small markups or commissions.

Fan was caught at Pudong International Airport on April 9 returning from Seoul. She made no declaration to customs but inspectors checking her luggage found 473 items of overseas bags, cosmetics, watches and phototherapy instruments, which are used to treat insomnia and depression.

Liu was caught on May 23 at the same airport with 307 smuggled items, according to the indictment.

The pair said they ordered the smuggled goods at Lotte Duty Free Shop and went to its store in South Korea to pick them up. They were bringing them back to China to put them on sale at their online store.

Customs said Liu evaded tariffs of 99,000 yuan and Fan evaded 80,000 yuan. The amount was considered relatively large and the court said they should be given criminal penalties and fines.

Purchasing overseas goods is a hot business on However, according to China's General Administration of Customs, passengers should declare such items and pay tariffs for any amount bought abroad and valued at more than 5,000 yuan. The duty rate for watches is 30 percent and 50 percent for cigarettes and cosmetics.

Under Chinese law, those who smuggle ordinary goods could face up to life in prison and a fine of up to five times the tariffs evaded.


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