An executive from ornamental fish service provider Qian Hu Corporation was on Monday (Feb 9) charged in Australia for attempting to smuggle A$300,000 (S$315,000) worth of endangered fish into the country on Feb 2.
According to The Australian, Singaporean Alex Chang Kuok Weai appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Monday, via video link, and was charged with one count of importing in breach of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Court documents stated that Australian Customs and Border Protection Services officers found 20 plastic bags concealed in Chang’s luggage after a flight from Singapore. A number of endangered fish — some alive, some dead — were found inside those bags, and the total value of the fish was almost A$300,000, it added.
When contacted by Channel NewsAsia, a Qian Hu spokesperson said: “Alex was on annual leave when he visited Australia in his personal capacity. We are not in a position to comment as this case is in the hands of the Australian authorities.” The spokesperson confirmed Chang is the company’s Head of Group Integrated R&D Department.
CURRENT CHARGE MAY NOT BE FINAL
The Australian also reported that Chang’s arrest had triggered further investigations, and prosecutor Elim Chan asked for a “longer-than-usual adjournment so these could continue”.
“There are international investigations underway, and the current charges may well not be the final ones,” Ms Chan said in the article. She said 26 of the fish seized were believed to be from the species listed under CITES, but officers were verifying the exact number.
Chang’s lawyer, Jessica Kurtzer, said her client intended to apply for bail but “his proposed guarantor was no longer able to assist”.
“I’m currently speaking with his employers in Singapore, who are assisting him. They are endeavouring to find a suitable address for him,” Ms Kurtzer said.
Chang was remanded in custody until next month, The Australian reported.