03/05/2021 - 13:00

Trio fined over $3m in illegal sandalwood exports

03/05/2021 - 13:00

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Three people have narrowly avoided jail and have been slapped with $97,000 in fines after being found guilty of illegally exporting $3 million worth of sandalwood.

Trio fined over $3m in illegal sandalwood exports
The trio were convicted of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring to commit an offence by exporting sandalwood without a licence in the Perth District Court on Friday. Photo: Attila Czar

Three people have narrowly avoided jail and have been slapped with $97,000 in fines after being found guilty of illegally exporting $3 million worth of sandalwood.

Wei Hsiung Chen, Jay Damon McKelvie and Kristen Wagner were convicted of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring to commit an offence by exporting sandalwood without a licence in the Perth District Court on Friday and sentenced to 2 years 6 months, 2 years 3 months and 15 months respectively.

But the sentences were suspended and they were released on good behaviour bonds.

The trio had pleaded guilty to the charges in December last year after being caught illegally exporting more than 208 tonnes of sandalwood.

Business News understands Mr Chen has owned and operated Warnbro-based wood manufacturing business Sandalwood Passion for almost two decades.

In a statement, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud welcomed the District Court’s decision, which reflected the federal government’s zero tolerance policy on illegal logging, and said he hoped it would act as a strong deterrent.

He said it was paramount that exporters complied with Australia’s strict export and biosecurity laws to help safeguard the country’s trade status.

“We have established strict inspection and fumigation processes to ensure goods are free from any pests, soil or weeds in an effort to protect our strong reputation for safe exports,” he said.

“We expect nothing less from importers—exporters must comply with our strict standards.

“Australia exports two thirds of what we produce—incidences of biosecurity non-compliance expose us to the danger of overseas markets no longer trusting the quality of our produce.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonathon Duniam said the federal government was providing security for the forestry industry through its strong stance on illegal logging and would continue to fight the destructive trade.

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