Counterfeiters face hefty fine and jail

By Samuel Kutty — MUSCAT: APRIL 11 – Counterfeiters now face higher penalty and jail term following inclusion of stricter terms in the Sultanate’s consumer protection laws. “What is required now is the cooperation of the public that they report the cases of fake products sale to the authorities,” said a senior official at the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP). The official said that there has been a significant drop in the total number of complaints as well as violations, court cases and confiscated items in 2015 comparing with the previous year.
The authority confiscated more than 2.5 million commodities that violated consumer protection laws in different governorates in 2015. A total of 145,822 items were confiscated from Muscat alone.
It has been a long cry from consumers, authorised dealers and retailers about the fake products of top brands of clothes, bags, accessories, watches and perfumes.
The law imposes tougher penalties including imprisonment in addition to fines and confiscation and destruction of the commodity.
“Deceiving or even attempting to deceive the consumer as to the reality, nature, quality, source, composition, use or components of any good or service are punishable under the new law enacted last month”, the official said.
Depending on the type of violation, an individual could face between 10 days and three years of imprisonment and also a fine of RO 100 to RO 50,000 as per the Consumer Protection Law promulgated by the Royal Decree No 66/2014.
“However, this is in stark contrast to the RO 5,000 maximum fine, to be doubled in case of recurrence as provided for in the earlier law,” he pointed out.
Apart from the punishment from the court, the authority “may impose administrative fines” provided that the fine does not exceed RO 1,000 for the first offence, RO 2,000 for the second offence with a RO 100 fine per day for each day the violation is not removed, not exceeding RO 2,000 in total.
According to PACP’s 2015 annual report, 165 cases were registered in 2015 for selling counterfeit products, while there were 116 violations relating to selling and imparting inappropriate and offensive products.
“The reasons behind such decline is due to price stabilisation in the market, intensive inspection campaigns carried out regularly by the authority’s inspectors, especially during the seasons, and due to the role of the PACP in spreading the awareness by educating business owners, suppliers and consumers of their rights and duties,” the report said. The total number of penalties issued in 2015 has declined compared to that in 2014. PACP’s headquarters in Muscat comes first with the highest number of issued penalties. Majority of penalties were issued due to violating the law on failing to display the price of products, second violation was raising the price of products/services without obtaining the necessary approval from the authority.