Interior Ministry Displays ‘Historic’ Haul of Fake Cosmetics

Counterfeit cosmetics, including fakes of some of the world’s biggest brands, were put on display at the Interior Ministry on Monday as an official announced that nearly 70 tons of beauty products had been recovered in “historic busts” potentially worth millions of dollars.

The haul included shampoos—both in bottles and single sachets—conditioners, hair spray, skin-whitening body creams, hair perms and hair coloring treatments.

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Counter Counterfeit Committee president Meach Sophana. (Phan Soumy/The Cambodia Daily)

“This is the biggest number in the history of cracking down on fake products in our country,” said Meach Sophana, president of the Interior Ministry’s Counter Counterfeit Committee. It is “a historic bust of fake products.”

A first set of raids, carried out at three locations on March 31 in Kandal province’s Takhmao City, resulted in the arrest of three Chinese nationals and the recovery of 30 tons of fraudulent cosmetics, Mr. Sophana said. A second bust on April 28 at a warehouse and shop in Phnom Penh uncovered another 38 tons of cosmetics, resulting in the arrest of a Chinese woman and Cambodian man.

Mr. Sophana said the ingredients were imported, but the manufacturing was taking place in Cambodia and false labels were attached to make the products appear to have been made abroad.

“In general, they imported raw materials, machines and packing materials from abroad,” Mr. Sophana said.

The fake cosmetics on show at the ministry included major brands such as Sunsilk, Pantene, Rejoice, Head & Shoulders and Schwarzkopf, and many were made to appear to be Thai, Japanese, American, Vietnamese or German products.

Mr. Sophana said he was unsure of the exact value of the bust, “but it could be worth millions of dollars.”

Some samples had been sent off to brands for testing, and “we are trying to contact the owners of the brands,” he said.

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Counterfeit cosmetic products are displayed at the Interior Ministry in Phnom Penh yesterday following raids that netted nearly 70 tons of fake goods in Kandal province and Phnom Penh. (Phan Soumy/The Cambodia Daily)

“For example, in the case of [counterfeit] products of Shiseido, we sent the samples to Japan. We have not received the results yet,” he said.

He said all the arrests in the cases came as a result of about three months of investigation.

In the first raid, Mau Li Jun, owner of one of the manufacturing plants, was placed in provisional detention after being charged with “faking brands and intentionally importing fake products,” which carries a sentence of one to five years in prison, while two others who were arrested are still under investigation.

Chen Jin Hua and Chen Sokha, who were detained during last month’s raids, were charged with a wide range of crimes, including “illegally importing, storing, distributing illegal cosmetic products without license,” Mr. Sophana said.

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