KOTA KINABALU: Some 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth RM100mil in the illicit trade business were seized by Customs at the port here.
Sabah Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Janathan Kandok said they found the scales in a container owned by a Sabah private company that was meant for export on July 29.
He said a 43-year-old man, who is the owner of the company, has been detained.
“Our initial investigation showed that it was on its way to China,” he said.
Janathan said they were uncertain if the scales were from local pangolins and did not rule out the possibility that they were smuggled from neighbouring countries.
He said they estimated that the scales came from some 16,000 pangolins, which are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The scales were in 266 gunny sacks placed inside two containers, he told a press conference at Wisma Kastam Sabah here yesterday.
Pangolin scales are in high demand as an aphrodisiac, although this attribute is yet unproven.
He said the suspect had hidden the scales under normal marine shells to trick Customs officials.
However, on closer examination, they discovered the pangolin scales beneath the sacks.
Janathan said that investigations were being carried out under Section 135(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for exporting banned goods.
Those found guilty face a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the goods or a jail term not exceeding three years or both.