The Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Market Surveillance Agency (MSA) plans to further investigate Con Cung company’s compliance with regulations on clear origin, product quality, origin stamps, consumer protection, and commercial activities, according to MSA’s deputy head Tran Hung.
Con Cung is a nationwide baby product retailer whose several stores in HCM City were found to have violated product origin regulations last week, MSA said. More than 5,000 products were confiscated by MSA for further investigation into their true origin.
The alleged violations included lack of receipts for some imported goods, inadequate origin stamps, and origin stamp alterations. Some products had stamps covering information printed on products, while an item of clothing showed signs that its origin stamp had been replaced, according to MSA.
An inspection team, led by Hung consisting of ministry officials and staff from the MSA HCM City Branch, visited Con Cung’s headquarters in District 7, where Nguyen Quoc Minh, chairman of the board, explained that the violations were a result of technical errors, such as stamps falling off due to insufficient glue, as opposed to malicious intent.
Hung said the investigation into Con Cung was originally scheduled last week under a decision from the ministry on July 24, but the company asked for more time to prepare proper documents and receipts to aid the investigation.
Con Cung’s commercial activities since January of last year are also being investigated.
On July 28, Con Cung announced on its website that all its products have proper receipts to prove their origin, and that it would reward VND1 billion (about US$43,500) to the first customer who can prove that a product recently bought from its stores was fraudulent or had unclear origin.
Nguyen Van Bach, deputy head of the MSA HCM City Branch, said the branch had inspected 88 Con Cung stores in HCM City so far. Further inspections are being conducted, with results expected soon, he said.
As for the problem of products with unclear origin, the MSA HCM City Branch told Tuoi Tre newspaper that it had seized over 13,000 stamps and labels of famous fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, with unclear origin from four shops in District 5’s Dai Quang Minh Trading Centre. MSA officials are working with these brandname companies to check the validity of the stamps and labels.
Mark Gillin, board member of the American Chamber of Commerce in HCM City, said that fraud was highly detrimental to real brands, and that consumers and businesses should have better awareness about the importance of intellectual property rights.