Thu. May 26th, 2022

Retailers who get caught up in inflating the prices of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests risk significant fines or jail time as the nationwide shortage of kits continues.

Australian federal police have begun investigating RAT price cuts, warning individuals and businesses that they risk up to 5 years in prison or a $ 66,000 fine.

AFP announced the survey Friday morning, saying it had the power to investigate when a dealer or individual buys RATs from another dealer and resells them with an increase of more than 20 percent.

“For example, if a tobacconist buys RATs from a chemist and then sells those RATs for more than 20 percent of what they were bought for, that tobacconist faces criminal charges under the law,” AFP said in a declaration.

It does not apply to retailers who buy from a wholesaler.

AFP Crime Commissioner Nigel Ryan said there would be “zero tolerance” for those who profited on RATs.

COVID BRISBANE
Camera iconAustralian federal police released the investigation on Friday. NCA NewsWire / Sarah Marshall Credit: Corp Australia company profile

“AFP will use its full powers to crack down on RAT prices. Not only is the pricing of RATs unethical, but it is illegal, and AFP will use its significant resources to ensure that it protects the public from the illegal greed of others. ,” he said.

AFP has launched two investigations in Queensland and NSW following referrals from the National Consumer Watchdog.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said earlier this week that it had significant concerns about the retail prices of rapid tests, which sell for up to $ 70 each, despite wholesale costs of between $ 3.95 and $ 11.45.

“Ultimately, we’ve received reports or seen media coverage of tests costing up to $ 500 for two tests through online marketplaces … which is clearly outrageous,” said ACCC President Rod Sims.

Mr. Sims had warned retailers that they could be “named and ashamed” and asked the public to warn the ACCC of cases of price falls, leading to nearly 2,000 tip-offs.

The Commonwealth Government, along with states and territories, has been pushing for the public to move away from “gold standard”, labor-intensive PCR testing and use RATs at home.

ACCC PRESSES
Camera iconACCC chair Rod Sims has criticized the “clearly outrageous” price cut. NCA NewsWire / Adam Yip Credit: Corp Australia company profile

But the fast test kits remain in very short supply and in high demand, leading to widespread reports of high prices and important workers struggling to find them.

The federal government has vehemently rejected reported claims from retailers that it is redirecting orders for RATs to strengthen its own supplies.

AFP said Friday that its strike team had powers to force individuals or companies involved in price-cutting to hand over the RATs that would be sent to the national medical warehouse.

“To date, AFP has not seized or surrendered RATs, PPEs or other relevant medical supplies to National Medical Stockpile,” it said.

AFP expects more referrals from the ACCC, which will be coordinated under the Task-force LOTUS, which was set up last year to respond to potential criminal threats against the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine.

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