CHINESE LINKED TO FAKE FIJI CIGARETTES

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 18, 2001 - Fiji Sun/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji's Customs Department has seized 366 cartons of fake cigarettes in a raid on a Chinese national's home in Suva.

Fiji Revenue and Customs Authority Director General Pasikale Bale said authority officials believe there are a lot more fake cigarettes in Fiji.

The Chinese national is in police custody and is being questioned on the origin of the seized fake Benson and Hedges cigarettes, estimated to be worth more than F$ 600,000 (US$ 268,500).

Mr. Bale said recent illegal activities involving Chinese nationals raised doubts on the screening of people allowed to set up businesses in Fiji.

Distributors of Benson and Hedges cigarettes became aware of the fake cigarettes on the market following complaints from smokers. Smokers said the cigarettes did not taste the same as the genuine Fiji-made products.

"Immigration must carry out a thorough background check on everyone coming into the country to set up a business," Mr. Bale said.

"With the recent amount of raids we have conducted it seems proper screening of businessmen is not done before they are allowed into Fiji."

One of the main suspects in Fiji's biggest drug haul is also a Chinese national.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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