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Two men sentenced for illegally exporting carved ivory fans

News   •   Sep 24, 2019 12:04 BST

[Image of recovered fan]

Two men who illegally exported carved ivory fans to Hong Kong and America have been sentenced.

Guy Buckle, 62 (07.04.57) and Sik-Hung Or, 73 (15.06.46) of Champion Hill, SE5 were each sentenced to 28 months imprisonment at Inner London Crown Court on Monday, 23 September after pleading guilty to three counts of the illegal export of ivory goods, contrary to the Customs & Excise Management Act 1979.

The court heard how on 8 November 2017, the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit were contacted by the National Wildlife Crime Unit after two parcels, destined for China, were seized by UK Border Force at Heathrow; the parcels each contained a carved ivory fan.

An investigation commenced and officers quickly identified the sender as an online trader, selling identical carved ivory items.

The fans were assessed as antiques which meant that the sale of the items in the UK was lawful. However, Buckle and Or made most sales to purchasers in China, Hong Kong and the USA without the required re-export permit issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

Police enquiries established that 136 carved fans had been exported outside the EU between January 2014 and November 2017 with the sales totalling £145,259.

The Wildlife Crime Unit’s investigation culminated in a search warrant at their pair’s home address on 1 March 2018. A total of 291 carved ivory fans, all from protected or endangered species, and four pieces of unworked elephant ivory was seized.

Both men were interviewed under caution on 23 May 2018 and they were later charged on 5 May 2019.

Detective Constable Sarah Bailey who led the investigation, said: “There are legal requirements in relation to the sale of specimens derived from protected/endangered species and these requirements had not been met in this case.

“I hope today’s sentencing highlights that this type of activity is illegal and acts as a deterrent to those involved in the illegal sale and export of such items.”

They were both sentenced as follows:

Count 1 – 28 months imprisonment
Count 2 – 12 months to run concurrently
Count 3 – 12 months to run concurrently.