Thirteen months after Cambodia’s largest ever haul of ivory was seized at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the chief of customs on Wednesday appeared before the provincial court to answer questions about the case for the first time.
Huot Vichet, a deputy prosecutor at the provincial court, confirmed Thursday that customs chief Kin Ly was questioned and provided the court with some documents related to the delivery of the ivory, but said he would need to see more before he would summon the company that consigned the cargo.
“We asked customs to find more documents to find out which company is involved with this case,” Mr. Vichet said. “The court has not summoned the company yet because we are dealing with customs first.”
Mr. Ly, however, said that he had provided the court with all documents relevant to the delivery and the company, Reho Both (Cambodia) Co. Ltd., an import-export and freight forwarding firm with an office in Phnom Penh.
“We sent enough documents to the court as evidence,” Mr. Ly said, declining to comment further.
Details around the case have been scarce ever since customs officials found 3,008 kg of tusks stashed inside two containers of beans that came from Kenya via Malaysia in May 2014. Initially, Olair Worldwide Logistics was named as the consignor of the goods. That company denied any knowledge of the freight.
The ivory could be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Contacted Thursday, Khan Sinith, director of Reho Both, said that shortly before the containers’ arrival on May 9 last year, he had received notification that his company was set to receive two shipping containers that he was not previously aware of.
“I sent a message to the ship rejecting [the shipment] before customs officials found the ivory,” he said. “However, it is my mistake that I did not report to customs officials about this problem.”
Mr. Sinith said that another shipping company, Road Logistics Express Co., had a history of using his name to import illicit goods.
A man who answered the phone number listed for Road Logistics Express identified himself as an employee named Nara, but declined to comment on the allegation.
“I don’t know. I am busy,” he said.