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Sunday, February 5, 2023

M’sian Datuk Seri wanted by the US for money laundering and wildlife trafficking

Social NewsM'sian Datuk Seri wanted by the US for money laundering and wildlife...

The United States is seeking the extradition of a Malaysian man with a “Datuk Seri” title for conspiring to wildlife trafficking from Africa and money laundering.

In a statement, the US attorney for the southern district of New York said 57-year-old Teo Boon Ching was extradited from Thailand on Friday (7 October) after he was arrested in June for his second wildlife trafficking offence.

According to US attorney Damian William, Teo was the head of a transnational criminal enterprise that trafficked rhino horns and enriched poachers who killed endangered animals. It is understood that Teo has businesses in Malaysia and Thailand.

“Teo became a specialised smuggler, transporting rhino horns from rhino poaching operations mainly in Africa to end customers mainly in Asia. Teo also claimed to be able to send rhino horns to the US,” the charge against him read.

The statement also said that during the two-decade-long involvement in the illegal wildlife trade, Teo claims to have transported multiple metric tons of rhino horn, ivory and pangolins, including rhino horns from the critically endangered black rhino.

In 2019, he was charged with smuggling about 73kg of horns with a value of nearly US$725,472 (≈RM3.3 million) after he told people that he was a middleman for poached rhinoceros horns in Africa and charged them a per kilo fee.

Facing a 5-year jail sentence

The statement said that a confidential source in the US, who acted as a buyer, bought 12 horns from Teo and wired money from a New York bank to numerous Chinese bank accounts at an “underground” banking facility in Thailand.

Teo is currently facing a maximum of five years jail in prison for conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and two counts of money laundering, which carries a maximum of 20 years in jail.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the US had imposed sanctions on a Malaysian group, accusing it of engaging in “the cruel trafficking of endangered and threatened wildlife and the products of brutal poaching”.

The US also said it had imposed sanctions on Malaysian timber trading company Sunrise Greenland.

The company is said to be specializes in transporting rhino horn, ivory and pangolin from Africa. The US said it uses routes through Malaysia and Laos to reach customers in Vietnam and China.

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