BoC asks HK to probe alleged coral importer
The Bureau of Customs (BoC) has asked Hong Kong authorities to investigate a firm based in the territory for allegedly being involved in the illegal trade of Philippine black corals and other endangered marine life.
Nestorio Gualberto, BoC Enforcement and Security Service director, said bureau officials had requested their Hong Kong counterparts to investigate King Success Trading, whose listed business address is No. 68 Queen’s Road.
“Based on intelligence information that we gathered, the Zamboanga-based company Lim and Li Trading was exporting marine products to King Success Trading,” Gualberto said.
The BoC earlier charged Olivia Lim Li, the owner of Lim and Li Trading, before the Department of Justice for the foiled attempt to smuggle out of the country 21,000 pieces of black coral, 161 dead turtles and other marine products worth P35 million.
The Senate has also ordered the arrest of Li and her husband, Joe Pring, alias Lee Yu Ming, for snubbing the Senate investigation into the case.
Besides Li, the BoC also charged the shipment’s consignee, Exequiel Navarro; Kim L. Atillano, owner of Zamboanga-based JKA Transport System, the cargo forwarding company used in the smuggling try; Ireneo Penuliar of the Manila branch of JKA Transport System; and the officers and owners of Vicky’s Trucking, which transported the illicit cargo from the shipper’s warehouse to the Port of Zamboanga.
Gualberto said the BoC was also planning to file a supplemental case against Li’s husband, who reportedly also uses the aliases Jok Beng, Jo Beng Li and Nguyen Li.
In Zamboanga City, the regional prosecutors office yesterday, after more than three years, charged Joe Pring and his wife Olivia with violation of Republic Act No. 8550, otherwise known as the Fisheries Code of the Philippines.
The prosecutors could not explain why it took them that long to act on the information filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in 2008.
Government prosecutors Gladdy S. Bernabe and Alfredo Jimenez Jr. opted to keep silent over the accusations of foot-dragging hurled against them by the Senate committee on environment and natural resources until their appearance before the inquiry.
“We have to clarify that (accusation) to the Senate during the inquiry and I want my side to be heard,” Bernabe told the Inquirer.
Bernabe admitted that he initially handled the case in 2008, but added that it was reassigned to another prosecutor.