Company execs arrested in Vietnam for $5 mln ivory smuggling

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Elephant tusks smuggled by Thai Minh Company. The company's director and his deputy were arrested on Saturday, police said.

The Ho Chi Minh City police Saturday arrested a company director and his deputy for allegedly trafficking ivory worth nearly US$5 million.

In July customs officials had found 158 elephant tusks weighing 2,475 kg in a consignment of goods imported from Africa by Thai Minh Import Export Company based in the city's Binh Thanh District.

The cargo was purported to be salted cow skin imported from Singapore.

Tran Van Thai, the company director, refused to take delivery of the consignment.

The police began investigating after no one from the company turned up to meet them despite four summons in July.

But the company's deputy director, Le Van Tu, confessed to being the one responsible for importing the ivory by faking documents. But Thai had signed and stamped them.

They had imported ivory once earlier this year in a similar manner.

Trading in ivory has been banned in Vietnam since the 1990's.

Trafficking prohibited goods worth more than VND1 billion ($48,000) is punishable by jail terms of 12 years to life.

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