Jamaica seeks $203m forfeiture from businesswoman over counterfeit goods

(Jamaica Observer) KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Assets Recovery Agency is seeking the forfeiture of over $203 million from Chinese-Jamaica businesswoman Lan Yan as her alleged benefit from the retailing of counterfeit goods.

According to a release from the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the agency has filed a pecuniary penalty order against her pursuant to section 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in the Home Circuit Court. The matter, which is to be heard on July 14, is subsequent to an order granted in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court Civil Division for $2,100,000, which the police seized from the businesswoman in 2015, to be forfeited to the Government.

That order was made on Thursday, June 14, by Senior Parish Judge Opal Smith and, at that time, her attorney Hugh Wildman indicated his client’s intention to file an appeal.The ministry said the cash was seized on Thursday, April 30, 2015, when personnel from the Asset Recovery Agency and members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Constabulary Financial Unit conducted a search operation at Lan’s home.

It said the cash was found in four different locations of an upstairs bedroom hidden in black plastic bags.

When questioned by the police as to the source and intended use of the cash, she reportedly indicated that the cash was from her business and was intended to be used in her business.

The cash was seized by the police under POCA on the suspicion that it had derived from unlawful conduct.

The judge expressed that Lan had failed to effectively challenge the evidence presented by the agency and found that there was sufficient evidence upon which to conclude that the cash had been derived from unlawful conduct. “The finding was based on a number of factors highlighted throughout the agency’s case, including the seizure of the counterfeit goods by the police at Lan Yan’s business, the volume of counterfeit items seized, the fact that Lan Yan had pleaded guilty to the offence and Lan Yan’s failure to give a truthful account,” said the ministry.

It further informed that the search of her home arose out of an earlier operation by personnel from the police’s Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime Investigation Branch and the Jamaica Custom’s Enforcement Unit on March 17, 2015.

On that day, the officers raided Kay’s Superstore Limited, a downtown-Kingston business owned and operated by the businesswoman.

It is reported that the search resulted in the seizure of over 34,000 pairs of counterfeit footwear bearing trademarks such as Nike, Adidas, Levis, Reebok, Vans, Converse and Polo among others.

Lan was arrested and charged for multiple counts of unlawful use of trademark and pleaded guilty to the offences on April 6, 2016.

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