7:00am Saturday 19th November 2011
A Chinese student has been jailed after being caught with a £3m haul of fake jewellery which contained dangerously high levels of poisonous metal nickel.
Zhanhong Zheng, who amassed the booty of fake jewellery, pens, sunglasses and handbags, prompted a public health alert last year after it emerged he was selling dangerous jewellery and cufflinks containing high levels of the metal.
The 25-year-old, from of Draycott Court, Battersea, was arrested following an investigation by Wandsworth Council’s Trading Standards Officers.
Tests on pieces of fake designer jewellery he was selling revealed levels of nickel up to 28 times higher than health and safety laws allow.
Councillor Jonathan Cook, community safety spokesman, said: “This was one of the largest seizures of counterfeit goods carried out by Trading Standards Officers in the UK terms of the value of the goods seized, and was certainly the biggest ever in Wandsworth.
“The council has appointed a financial investigator to trace all the money Zheng has made from his illegal operations and we will be seeking an order to recover this money under the Proceeds of Crime Act.”
The jewellery he sold claimed to be genuine products from brands such as Chanel, Rolex, Dior, Gucci and Swarovski.
They were being stored and distributed from a storage unit in Battersea and being sold at markets in Wandsworth, Kempton Park, Bovingdon, Wembley and Dagenham.
In total more than 9,000 items of designer counterfeit goods were seized with a retail value in excess of £3m.
Officers believe Zheng, who came to the UK from China in 2003 on a post study work visa, had been running the racket for at least two years.
He was given an 18-month prison sentence at Kingston Crown Court on November 3.
Zheng pleaded guilty to 15 counts of unauthorised use of a trade mark and one count of placing on the market articles of jewellery that exceed the limit of nickel release set down in the regulations.
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