Huge Haul Still at Sihanoukville Port as Investigations Stall

More than seven months after authorities seized three tons of elephant ivory worth millions of dollars—the largest haul in Cambodia’s history—investigations remain stalled while the illicit cargo sits at the shipyard.

Kin Ly, the head of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s customs and excise department, said Wednesday that the company that consigned the cargo has not responded to his department’s attempts to contact it. He said he was awaiting instructions from his superiors before sending the case to the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court.

“The company did not respond, so we will send this case to the court to continue the investigation,” Mr. Ly said, adding that the case could not be sent to the court until he received orders from both the Finance Ministry and the General Department of Customs and Excise.

In May, Bun Chiv, chief of administration at the Sihanoukville port, said shipping records showed that the two containers holding the ivory had been consigned by a shipping company named Olair Worldwide Logistics. At the time, representatives of the company denied accusations of wrongdoing and claimed that another company had used its name to order the ivory.

Olair Worldwide Logistics could not be reached Wednesday, and a phone number for the company appeared to have been disconnected.

Ouch Anutaro, chief of legal affairs at the General Department of Customs and Excise in Phnom Penh, said the case would be sent to the provincial court “soon.”

Mr. Anutaro said the ultimate fate of the ivory—which originated in Kenya and arrived on Cambodian shores via Malaysia—could be decided by Prime Minister Hun Sen himself once the court case was concluded.

“First, we will send it to the court…and if we receive a decision from the court that the ivory is state property, the general department will send a request to the prime minister to decide” where it would be sent, he said.

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