Taiwanese Pleads Guilty To Trying To Illegally Export Solomons Timber

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Logging of endangered tubi logs prohibited

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb 27, 2014) – Sentence is up next for the Taiwanese who pleaded guilty to trying to export million dollars worth of endangered tubi logs.

This followed the sentencing submissions and mitigation conducted yesterday before Principal Magistrate Shepherd Lapo.

Teng Cheng Liu was charged with one count of attempted export of prohibited goods, evasion of taxes on export goods and false declaration.

He was charged under the Customs & Excise Act.

These were in relation to the allegation in 2010 where he attempted to export seven containers of tubi logs.

He declared those timbers as sawn tubi timbers but customs later found the containers contained tubi logs that were prohibited in the country.

Liu is co-accused with another Taiwanese national, Hsieh Chen Chin Fu whom police are yet to charge as he had already left the country.

Fu will be charged when he returns to the country.

Crown Prosecutor Ricky Iomea said these offences are serious particularly the false declaration in terms of goods to be exported.

He said the court has to send a clear message to companies occasionally involve with forest resources of this country, that this nation and resource owners cannot be deprived of their rights in terms of money they received from the resources.

He asked the court to impose a sentence that will clearly reflect the seriousness of the offence and to deter others who tried to do the same.

Ben Etomea, who represented Liu, told the court that during the commissioning of the offence, his client did not know that Tubi was a prohibited good.

He said it was after the discovery of the logs at the wharf that the Commissioner of Forest liaises with the Attorney General before realising that Tubi was a prohibited species.

Mr Iomea however submitted that ignorance of the law was not a defence and asked the court not to take that into account.

Mr Etomea also submitted the delay of the case in which resulted in his client pleading guilty to the charges.

He said the case has been hanging over his client’s head since 2008.

Magistrate Lapo will hand down his sentence on March 19.

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