1,000m³ Rare African Wood Seized at Saigon City Port

January 10: Customs officials in HCMC have discovered over 1,000 cubic meters (m³) of timber worth over $430,000 illegally imported from Africa with fake declarations.

In the declarations, the shipment, which arrived in District 9’s SP-ITC Port, was listed as imported by Inbe Asia Co. Ltd., a company in Binh Thanh District and containing Afzelia xylocarpa wood, a species of tree native to Southeast Asia.

According to customs’ anti-smuggling and investigation department, the shipment had already been cleared but a representative of Inbe Asia who had come to apply for the clearance refused to cooperate when the authorities asked to inspect the consignment.

The representative then refused to accept the shipment and attempted to change the name of the importer in the manifest.

Anti-smuggling and customs officers then decided to check it on Friday.

Inside they found wood from the African kino tree (Pterocarpus erinaceus), an endangered species of tree that is native to West Africa and listed as protected in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

African kino is used medicinally for wound healing, as treatment of fever, coughs, diarrhea, eye complaints, ulcers, sores, intestinal worm infections, gonorrhea, leprosy, hemorrhage, anemia, and as aphrodisiac. It is also used for woodworking, charcoal and as fuel wood.

According to international regulations, import of this wood requires permission from authorities in both the countries of origin and destination.

The shipment is thought to have passed through many countries before arriving in Vietnam in an attempt to hide its origin.

Authorities also found Inbe Asia’s registered address to be fake and found instead a general store there.

The investigation is continuing.

Source: VN Express / Quoc Thang

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