A joint operation between NSW Fair Trading and NSW Police this morning uncovered evidence of illegal odometer tampering at four motor vehicle dealerships in Sydney.
Operation Paris has resulted in action against four motor dealers and three motor vehicle repairers associated with the four dealerships, following a two-year investigation by Fair Trading’s Compliance and Enforcement Division.
All actions captured by this morning’s search warrants involved alleged winding back of odometers in used cars imported from Japan. Dream Car City, located at 219-223 Parramatta Road, Haberfield, had its licence to operate suspended on the spot following execution of the search warrant.
The following dealerships have been issued Notices to Show Cause as to why disciplinary action should not be taken:
Master Cars, 1/40 Forge Street, Blacktown
Edward Lee Imports, 71-75 Parramatta Road, Concord
Prestige Auto Centre, 175-179 Parramatta Road, Concord
Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said charges were expected to be laid for a number of offences including fraud (Crimes Act 1901), odometer tampering (Motor Dealers and Repairers Act 2013) and false advertising (Australian Consumer Law) if there is sufficient evidence.
“Our investigators have identified approximately 100 vehicles that have had their odometers tampered with and sold to consumers,” Mr Stowe said. “Of particular concern is the fact all affected vehicles identified through Operation Paris were second hand stock imported directly from Japan with no local records that allow verification of odometer readings.”
Evidence seized during the operation included deregistration certificates issued by Japan’s Bureau of Transportation, importation documents and papers relating to vehicle compliance with Australian road safety standards.
Mr Stowe said the problem of odometer tampering in imported cars appeared to be limited to Japan, where automatic deregistration applies to all vehicles after a stipulated time frame from the year of manufacture.
Mr Stowe commended Fair Trading investigators, NSW Police State Crime Command, Property Crime Squad, Roads and Maritime Services and Safe Work for their successful execution of Operation Paris.
NSW Police State Crime Command’s Property Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Murray Chapman, said the offences uncovered were serious with each proven count of odometer tampering under the Motor Dealers and Repairers Act attracting a fine of up to $22,000. Fraud convictions attract a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.