The boss of a Hong Kong film prop company could face jail time over allegedly possessing some 200,000 “counterfeit” bank notes labelled “props”.

According to testimony heard at the Eastern Magistrates Court on Thursday, the bank notes were used in local films including the award-winning crime thriller Trivisa.

Defendant Cheung Wai-chuen.

Cheung Wai-lun, person-in-charge of Wai Kang Production Ltd, and Law Yun-lam, who is unemployed, were initially charged with having custody or control of counterfeit notes in November 2015. Cheung is listed as a prop worker on 45 films on the Hong Kong Movie Database website.

Ming Pao reported that police found around 10,000 counterfeit notes in a vehicle, and over 220,000 notes in the office of a movie prop production company. They were labelled “props” in small print.

The notes resembled Hong Kong Dollars, Chinese Renminbi, US Dollars, Pounds Sterling, and Euros.

Film industry ‘shocked’

Witness Ng Yan-kei – a film production employee – told the court on Thursday that producers would usually work with various government departments under guidelines set by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau’s Film Services Office.

She said that she has never heard of any requirement to apply for permission before using film prop bank notes, and that none of her colleagues have ever been charged for a similar offence. She added that the film industry is shocked by the charges.

File photo: Eastern Law Courts Building.

According to the Crimes Ordinance, a person who has custody or control of any object that he knows or believes to be counterfeit currency – without lawful excuse – faces up to three years’ imprisonment.

The trial continues on Friday.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.