Chinese man charged with corruption, bribery over sea cucumber container
A Chinese businessman, Qinping Yan, has been charged by the Police in connection to a container of sea cucumbers intended for exports, that was seized by Customs.
The Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, confirmed that Mr. Yan faces charges of corruption and bribing a law enforcement officer.
“I can confirm that an individual of Chinese descendants has been charged for bribing a customs official," Fuiava said.
"He’s remanded into Police custody until his mention date."
The Samoa Observer was told that the value of sea cucumbers in the container was up to $10million.
Sea cucumbers are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine, fetching exorbitant prices.
According to relevant websites, sea cucumbers can fetch up to $2,500 tala per kilo in China. In some parts, they consider it the most valuable farmed sea product, with the industry worth more than $8 billion a year.
The Samoa Observer has independently verified that a bribe of $5,000 was allegedly offered to a senior official of the Ministry of Customs and Revenue. Chief Executive Officer, Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautua'alii, has not responded to an email seeking comments.
Fuiavaili’ili declined to discuss the details of the case, saying the matter is still under investigation.
“This is a multi agency investigation and it involves Fisheries, Customs and Police," he said. "And the police have taken over the bribery portion of the investigation. We have enough evidence and probable cause to charge him on bribery."
The charge carries a jail term of up to seven years in jail.
Under the crimes act 2013, section 137 subsection 2, that a person is liable to imprisonment for a term no exceeding seven years who corruptly gives or offers or agrees to give any bribe to any person with intent to influence any law enforcement officer in respect of any act or omission by the law enforcement officer in his or her official capacity.
Last month Customs and Revenue seized the said container that was ready for export. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Chief Executive Officer, Tilafono David Hunter, said the container was intercepted by Customs at the wharf.
“Because the suspected container was intercepted by M.C.R. Customs at the wharf, it comes under their jurisdiction,” said Tilafono.
“M.A.F. Quarantine Division assisted the M.C.R. Customs with the investigations of the intercepted container given M.A.F. Quarantine Division's role with our border monitoring activities.”