Malaysian wildlife traffickers hit with US sanctions

A file picture of Teo being arrested in Bangkok for trading in wildlife parts. The Nation/ANN

WASHINGTON (AP): The United States on Friday (Oct 7) has targeted a Malaysian wildlife trafficker and his trans-national criminal organization for financial sanctions related to the illegal shipment of rhino horn, ivory and other specimens.

The Treasury Department said Malaysian national Teo Boon Ching, his trafficking organization and the Malaysian firm Sunrise Greenland Sdn Bhd engage in the "cruel trafficking of endangered and threatened wildlife and the products of brutal poaching."

The United States said Ching specializes in the transportation of rhino horn, ivory, and pangolins – also known as scaly anteaters – from Africa, using routes through Malaysia and Laos to consumers in Vietnam and China.

Among other things, the sanctions deny Ching and others access to any property or financial assets held in the United States and prevent US companies and people from doing business with them.

The UN's 2020 World Wildlife Crime Report shows that between 2014 and 2018 seizures of pangolin scales have increased 10-fold.

The report says criminals tend to exploit legislative and enforcement gaps in some countries in efforts to hide the illegal trafficking.

"This is the case, for example, with pangolin scale traders who choose to store their stock in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as opposed to other source countries due to a perception of lesser capacity for interdiction," the UN says.

Brian E. Nelson, Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and illicit finance, said wildlife trafficking groups perpetuate corruption and illicit finance.

"The United States considers wildlife trafficking to be not only a critical conservation concern, but also a threat to global security," Nelson said.

Treasury worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, State Department and the government of Thailand to uncover the case. – AP

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