Vietnam slider importer asked to pay up

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A Mekong Delta court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by a local seafood firm that had been sued by a US exporter for buying red-eared sliders and not making due payment for the same.


Can Tho Seafood Import and Export Company (Caseamex) was asked to pay US$175,000 that it still owed to Oakland Ninja for the sliders, plus the court fee of more than VND112 million ($5,740).


Caseamex has on many occasions refused to pay Oakland, instead asking the US firm to compensate it with VND825 million ($42,308) for preserving and processing the sliders, arguing that it didn't know the turtles were harmful to the environment and banned for trade in Vietnam.


On May 28, the California-based firm filed a lawsuit at the Can Tho People's Court, saying it had in February signed a contract to sell 40 tons of live sliders to Caseamex at $6.25 a kilo, with Oakland paying the import fees of $0.25 per kilo.


Caseamex would pay 30 percent of the contract value first and the rest based on the number of sliders alive when the consigment arrived in Ho Chi Minh City, according to the contract.


In April, the firm received more than 35.5 tons of live sliders, which means it would have to pay Oakland $213,234. But it had only paid about $37,400 so far.


There has been strong objections against the import of this invasive species from the public and local authorities since they were brought to a Caseamex breeding center in nearby Vinh Long Province.


They invade the habitat of local turtles and can spread typhoid, officials said.


Local authorities have asked the company to re-export the sliders or destroy them.


Caseamex failed to ask Oakland to take the shipment back and said that it had processed the creatures in October. It said it would freeze the meat for two years to make animal feed for export or domestic use.


The company's lawyer said that Dave Tu, the legal representative of Oakland, was an acquaintance of Caseamex.


It had, therefore, believed him when he said that the sliders could make a lot of profit if sold to local restaurants.


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