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January 11, 2018

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HK official possessing ivory quits his post

A Hong Kong ivory trader fined this week for illegal possession of ivory resigned yesterday from a government advisory panel to protect endangered species, a potentially embarrassing blow for a city fighting to stamp out smuggling of ivory.

Hong Kong has the largest retail market for ivory, which it has traded for more than 150 years. The territory is a prime transit and consumption hub, with more than 90 percent of consumers from China’s mainland.

Lau Sai-yuan will step down from his position, broadcaster RTHK said. His term was to have run until September 30. Lau pleaded guilty on Tuesday to illegal ivory possession and was fined HK$8,000 (US$1,022). The conviction came less than two weeks after China enforced a total ban on ivory sales.

“This entire debacle demonstrates just how rotten and corrupt the Hong Kong ivory trade has become, which is why lawmakers need to hurry up and pass the ivory ban and maximum penalty review,” said Alex Hofford, a campaigner for non-government body WildAid.

Hong Kong is considering increasing penalties.


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