A director of bakery chain Crostini has been arrested by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, after the brand’s shops’ sudden shutdown last week left customers unable to redeem prepaid cake coupons.

A branch of Crostini at Time Square, Causeway Bay. File photo: Weizshaum KIAMZOU 300, via Wikicommons.

As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, customs said in a statement that it had received a total of 104 complaints against the cake shop chain involving 5,300 vouchers and amounting to around HK$270,000.

According to the department, a 55-year-old male director of the bakery chain had been arrested after investigations revealed that patrons were neither able to redeem the coupons, nor receive refunds after the chain announced that it had ceased operations on September 13.

The director was suspected of “engaging in wrongly accepting payment in the sale of cake coupons or gift vouchers, in contravention of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance” and has been released on bail, the statement read.

Under the ordinance, the company director could face a maximum jail time of five years and a HK$500,000 fine if convicted.

Local media cited sources identifying the founder of Crostini, Huang Guanghui, as the person arrested. Huang told outlets that he would not comment as “the case has already entered judicial proceedings.”

Customs and Excise Department.
Customs and Excise Department. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In an earlier interview with HK01, Huang said that the bakery chain, which had at least 10 branches across Hong Kong, had seen cash flow dry up when landlords asked it to repay its outstanding rent. The government’s three-month rental-relief scheme to help firms out during the worst wave of Covid-19 ended in July.

The customs department said that shops should comply with the requirements of the concerned ordinance, under which any trader commits an offence if there are no reasonable grounds for believing it will be able to supply the product within a specified or reasonable period when it accepts payment.

“Consumers are also reminded to procure cake coupons or gift vouchers at reputable shops and think prudently before making consumption decisions with a prepayment, ” the department added.

Anyone who has been impacted was asked to contact the Customs and Excise Department to provide further information.

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Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.