Wednesday, 5 March 2008 2:13 PM

Counterfeit Cigarettes Hit the Local Market

The Solomon Islands are now experiencing an influx in counterfeit cigarettes in the local shops. A ring of counterfeit suppliers were busted recently bringing some hope in curbing the problem.

Less then a week ago three Chinese men were charged for conspiring and distributing counterfeit Winfield cigarettes.

It is believed that the counterfeit cigarettes were imported and all three are said to be businessmen operating in the Solomon Islands.

The successful bust came about through a tip off from locals. A Criminal Investigations Division (CID) investigator, Mr. Junior Buin, testified in court that the three Chinese men attempted to discard large amounts of cigarette cartons at the Tenaru area.

"They were seen by a resident of the area when they tried to burn the cartons, but some of the residents took home a number of sleeves just to find that the smokes were stale," said Mr. Buin. "The resident contacted the police...the police turned up and confiscated 154 of the discarded cartons, although a considerable amount had already been burnt"

Mr. Buin said that the police initially thought that the smokes were stolen products from the Solomon Tobacco Factory. "Enquiries at the Solomon Tobacco Factory revealed that the smokes were not stolen legitimate Tobacco products," said Mr. Buin.

A representative from the Solomon Tobacco Factory pointed out various subtle differences in the production of the fake cigarettes and those produced by the factory itself.

Mr. Buin also said that the whole scam may in fact have been carried out on a larger scale and that corruption within certain relevant authorities may also be involved.

The trial and investigation continues.