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Woman found guilty of importing over 1,000 elephant tusks from Nigeria

SINGAPORE (THE STRAITS TIMES/ANN) – A Vietnamese woman was a director of a trading company when it imported a 40-foot container containing over 1,000 elephant tusks from Apapa, Nigeria.

Yesterday, District Judge Ong Chin Rhu found Dao Thi Boi (The Star pic below), 40, guilty of an offence under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act following a trial.

At the time of the offences, Boi, a Singapore permanent resident, was the owner and director of VNSG Trading as well as Song Hong Trading and Logistics.

During the trial, the court heard that on March 3, 2018, an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officer on duty at the ICA Pasir Panjang Scanning Station scanned the container, whose permit declared it contained 203 packages of groundnuts.

The ICA officer found images akin to animal horns inside, and the container was detained for investigation.

A total of 61 bags containing 1,787 suspected elephant tusks weighing 3,480 kilogrammes was found.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Lee Zu Zhao said in his submissions that Boi not only turned a blind eye, but actively and knowingly assisted in the dishonest business practices by her client – a man named Su Thien.

According to court documents, Boi handled about seven consignments from Nigeria to Singapore on behalf of Su Thien through her companies between 2017 and March 5, 2018.

As the sole person operating Song Hong Trading and Logistics, Boi had to be fully aware that the company had imported the container that the elephant tusks were in, said DPP Lee.

The court heard that she also failed to take all reasonable precautions and exercise due diligence to avoid the commission of the offence.

DPP Lee added, “Just because Song Hong was not involved in the initial stuffing of the container where the elephant tusks were found… or did not participate in the shipping out of the elephant tusks from Nigeria, does not mean that Song Hong did not cause the elephant tusks to be imported into Singapore.

“In fact, the evidence shows that Song Hong played an essential role, and that the elephant tusks could not have been imported into Singapore without Song Hong’s involvement.”

Boi is represented by Wee Pan Lee.

The defence argued that while Boi’s companies were the named consignees, Su Thien should ultimately be responsible for the contents of the shipments.

It also said that Boi’s responsibility or any due diligence on her part extended only to carrying out Su Thien’s instructions.

Given her constraints as a one-person operation, she should not be expected to do more, the court heard.

Boi’s mitigation and sentencing is expected to take place in May.