Newsagent denies exporting baby formula to China for $1m
A SYDNEY newsagent has denied his role in an alleged family crime ring which exported more than $1 million worth of stolen baby formula overseas.
Police say JianFeng Ke, his 29-year-old sister Xiaoyu and their parents hired mules to thieve the breast milk substitute, Manuka honey and vitamins which are much sought-after in China.
But on Wednesday the 31-year-old denied he had milked supermarkets across the state for profit over nearly 11 months in 2017 and 2018.
The Carlingford man pleaded not guilty to recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime and participating in a criminal group at Parramatta Local Court.
Disguised in a hoodie, sunglasses and a medical face mask, Ke swatted a journalist's microphone away as he hurried into a waiting car.
The quartet own a humble Carlingford newsagency but allegedly ran a much more lucrative family business on the side.
JianFeng' mother Lie is accused of being the syndicate's queenpin who employed a dozen thieves to target stores from Sydney to Newcastle and was arrested allegedly trying to sell 20 tins to a buyer.
In September the 48-year-old pleaded not guilty to directing the criminal group's activities among a raft other charges.
JianFeng was arrested at Sydney International Airport earlier this month after arriving on a flight from China and taken into custody.
He was granted bail last week and unsuccessfully requested to have a 9pm to 6am curfew extended to 10pm so he could continue working at the newsagency.
In August police raided two Carlingford properties, seizing 4000 tins of baby formula, large quantities of stolen vitamin and Manuka honey and more than $215,000.
A Bankstown business called Onestop Nature was also raided.
The tins seized sell for $30 in Australia but in China they sell for more than $80.
Manuka honey is sold for 30 per cent more in China than the $120-$150 a kilogram price tag in Australia.
JianFeng's father Wueqi, 53, was charged in December and his sister Xiaoyu was charged earlier this month with participating in a criminal group for their roles in the ring.
They will appear in court next month while the entire family's matter will be heard together in March.
The Australian Taxation Office has already frozen one family member's assets and has begun court proceedings to freeze the funds of others.
The theft and mass buying of Australian baby formula for international sale has forced supermarket chains to ration customers to just two tins each.
China's insatiable appetite for the product is creating illegal syndicates, runaway criminals and parents desperate to feed their babies.
The demand spiked after Chinese formula was contaminated in 2008. Six babies died and 54,000 were hospitalised.