The High Court has exonerated a film props master earlier found guilty of possessing counterfeit banknotes, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Cheung Wai-chuen was sentenced in May to four months in jail, suspended for two years, by an Eastern Court magistrate after police discovered a batch of banknotes used as props in his workplace.
The prop money was used in movies, including the crime thriller Trivisa, which won multiple awards, including best film at the Hong Kong Film Awards and Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards.
Cheung filed an appeal with the High Court to challenge the decision.
High Court judge Albert Wong Sung-hau said the key point of the case was whether Cheung knew or believed the prop banknotes were similar to real ones.
The magistrate had ruled that Cheung did not see the prop banknotes himself.
And there was not enough evidence to show that Cheung must have known or believed the prop banknotes were so authentic that they could be used as counterfeit notes, RTHK reported.
Wong thus decided in Cheung’s favor.
In his ruling, however, the judge said the prop banknotes fit all of the conditions that constitute counterfeits.
Wong also said he was astonished that Cheung, an experienced movie props maker, claimed he did not know he needed to seek the approval of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to be in possession of such props.
The judge said he expected the case to enable the film industry and members of the public to act in accordance with the law.
Welcoming the High Court’s decision, Tenky Tin kai-man, vice chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, said it is not that people in the film industry have been unwilling to follow legal procedures but that they have no knowledge of such procedures.
Tin said he hopes the government will establish a communication channel with the industry on the practical needs of filmmaking.
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