A television host with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV has been given a suspended jail sentence and fined HK$5,500 (US$709) for cigarette smuggling.
Ma Bin, a former presenter with state broadcaster CCTV, admitted to two counts of smuggling-related offenses — possession of dutiable commodities and failure to declare them to customs authorities.
Principal Magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey-fang scolded Ma, saying that as a representative of China, he should be careful about his words and behavior and should set a good example, before sentencing him to a month’s imprisonment suspended for one year.
Ma, 42, was held by Hong Kong customs authorities on June 4 while trying to smuggle 405 cigarettes from mainland China.
The cigarettes were subject to a HK$772 tax, according to Apple Daily.
Ma hid them in a toy box and told customs officers he had no room for them in his luggage when the items were discovered, TVB News reported.
Ma’s lawyer, Chan Ka-wing, had argued Ma merely forgot to pay the tax because he used the customs green channel, which is for people who have nothing to declare.
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