Sea cucumbers worth $10 million seized

The Ministry of Customs and Revenue has launched an investigation after a container allegedly carrying $10 million worth of sea cucumbers intended for export was seized.

The Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed the investigation but referred all queries to the Chief Executive Officer, Matafeo Avalisa Viali Fautua’ali'i.

In an email, Matafeo said she was not at liberty to discuss the details of the investigation.

“It is under critical investigation and would very much appreciate your patience and consideration of national importance of this case as we need to find, confirm and charge the perpetrator(s) before we make media release on this matter,” Matafeo said in an email. 

“We understand the importance for this information for the public knowledge and to deter future similar offences but we also have to be very mindful of any litigation against the government in the event we publicly release any information without thorough confirmation and evidence…”

A source said the investigation began last week.

The businessman, who appealed the decision, had his premises at Fugalei raided in 2016 where more than 400 kgs of sea cucumber were seized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. 

The seizure included 11 chilly bins and five boxes of dried sea cucumbers, a large green rubbish bin, and bucket full that had not been fully dried.   

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