Five years’ jail threat as AFP cracks down on RAT price gouging

The Australian Federal Police have vowed zero tolerance after launching investigations into rapid antigen test price gouging in Queensland and NSW.

Jan 21, 2022, updated Jan 21, 2022
The Tax Office says it will allow work-related Rapid Antigen Tests as a tax deduction. (File image).

The Tax Office says it will allow work-related Rapid Antigen Tests as a tax deduction. (File image).

It also warned individuals and businesses they face five years’ imprisonment for re-selling COVID-19 tests for more than 20 per cent of the original retail purchase price.

Two investigations have begun in Queensland and NSW after referrals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The ACCC said this week that it was receiving 150 complaints a day about RAT pricing.

The AFP said more referrals were expected and would be coordinated under the AFP’s Taskforce Lotus and then referred to strike teams across Australia, which have the power to force individuals or businesses engaged in price gouging to surrender the RATs, which would be sent to the National Medical Stockpile.

None have yet been seized or surrendered.

The AFP said it would also be working with state and territory law enforcement, commonwealth agencies and international partners.

“Under the legislation, the AFP has the power to investigate claims of RAT price gouging when a retailer or individual buys RATs from another retailer and sells those RATs with a mark-up of more than 20 per cent. It does not apply to retailers who buy from a wholesaler,” the AFP said.

“For example, if a tobacconist buys RATs from a chemist and then sells those RATs for more than 20 per cent of what they were purchased for, that tobacconist faces criminal charges under the law.”

AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Command Nigel Ryan said there would be zero tolerance for those who were profiteering from RATs at the expense of the Australian public.

“The AFP will use its full powers to crack down on RAT price gouging. Not only is price gouging of RATs unethical but it is illegal, and the AFP will use its significant resources to ensure it protects the public from the unlawful greed of others,’’ Ryan said.

“Commonwealth and state agencies are working together on this issue, and under Taskforce LOTUS, the AFP makes no apologies for upholding the law to help keep Australians safe.

“Those who breach the law face penalties of up to 5 years’ jail or a $66,000 fine. My message is clear. Do not risk jail time or a significant fine for a few extra dollars.”

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