Published On: October 2, 2020 07:00 PM NPT By: Republica | @RepublicaNepal
KATHMANDU, Oct 2: Police raid on three houses full of chocolate bars on Thursday in Kalanki and Bafal has exposed an organized practice of changing the labels on the wrappers of expired chocolates and supplying them back to the market.
While there were earlier cases of stores and retailers selling expired products, Thursday’s raid, however, revealed that the supply of expired chocolates in the market after changing their labels is being carried out in an organized way on a big scale. Such practice is not only illegal but also puts the health of the public at risk.
“Acting on a special tip-off, we raided the houses and found that the buildings were full of expired imported chocolates. The smugglers were about to change the labels on the wrappers of the imported chocolate,” Superintendent of Police, Ishwar Karki, told Republica.
Preliminary investigation has found that there is a racket of smugglers in Kathmandu supplying expired chocolates to the market. “Police are further investigating to bust the racket,” he said.
Not only chocolates, the police have found stocks of other expired products like biscuits, chips, perfume and toilet cleaners.
The police have arrested eight people involved in changing the labels of chocolates. Those arrested include Raunak Brotha of Ayan International. The police also seized some expired products from Amazon Distributors, a supplier close to the place where it had raided the houses. At a time when the police were raiding the house, a vehicle was found to be bringing expired products including chocolates. The police have impounded the vehicle. Pushpa Devi Agrawal, Munna Thakur, Pappu Kumar Thakur, Shyam Prasad Singh, Ram Bahadur Bayalkoti, Sitaram Uparkoti and Dilip Thapa Magar are the other people arrested on Thursday. The police have also impounded three vehicles used to transport the expired products.
The police have forwarded the case to the Department of Commerce, Supplies & Consumer Protection (DoCSCP) for further legal action.
Most of the expired products like Snickers, Oreo biscuit, Pringles chips which were sent to the market after changing the labels are imported in Nepal by the business conglomerate Vishal Group.
According to a source at the DoCSCP, preliminary investigation has found that Ayan Distributors would purchase the expired products from United Distributors Pvt Ltd and Life Care Distributors Pvt Ltd. Both distributors are owned by Vishal Group. The huge cache of expired chocolates and other fast-moving consumer goods seized from the raided houses were found to be supplied from these distributors owned by Vishal Group, said an investigation officer.
“There is a direct connection of these imported expired chocolates and fast moving consumer goods with Vishal Group,” said the investigation officer, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to share anything with the media. “We are still recording the statements of those who were arrested as well as intensifying monitoring of the market. All suspected firms and businesses are under surveillance,” he added.
According to the department’s source, some of the expired chocolates were already sent to the market after changing the labels on their wrappers. The relabeled products might be found from small stores to big departmental stores. “We are still evaluating the value of the seized products. But, the initial estimate is that the expired products that we raided could be of the value of Rs 30 million,” said the department source. According to the source, market monitoring around the raided houses found the relabeled products. The investigation officer said that they are still investigating how much the relabeled products could have already been supplied to markets in and outside the Kathmandu Valley.
Despite repeated attempts by Republica, no one from Vishal Group was available for comments on the matter.
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