The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has launched investigations into rapid antigen test (RAT) price gouging, warning individuals and businesses could face five years’ imprisonment or a $66,000 fine if they are caught selling kits for more than 20 per cent of original retail price.
Two investigations are underway in Queensland and New South Wales after the federal agency received referrals from the Australian Competition and Consumer Competition (ACCC).
Additional referrals are expected and will be coordinated under the AFP’s Taskforce LOTUS, which was established on 8 February 2021 in response to potential criminal threats during the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The legislation will not apply to retailers who purchase from a wholesaler.
“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,” said the AFP.
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.
To date, the AFP has not seized or surrendered any RATs, personal protective equipment or other relevant medical supplies to the National Medical Stockpile.
“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.”
Updated at 11.22am AEDT on 21 January 2022.
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