Written answer by Ministry of National Development on investigations into wildlife trafficking and links between syndicates and individuals in Singapore
Nov 7, 2022
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang: To ask the Minister for National Development with respect to the seizure of rhinoceros horns at Changi Airport on 4 October 2022, whether NParks will work with the Commercial Affairs Department and Monetary Authority of Singapore to investigate specifically (i) the financial trails linked to the illegally-traded rhinoceros horns and (ii) any links between wildlife trafficking syndicates and individuals in Singapore.
On 4 October this year, NParks seized 20 pieces of rhinoceros horns from the check-in baggage of a South African national travelling from South Africa to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic through Changi Airport. The horns were detected by airport security and NParks’ K9 unit assisted in their identification. They weighed 34.25 kilograms and were estimated to be worth around S$1.2 million. The owner of the baggage has been arrested and is under investigation.
2 Our agencies adopt a whole-of-government approach to combat illegal wildlife trade and illicit monetary flows linked to it. Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA), it is an offence to trade all rhinoceros species, including their parts, without the requisite permits. This is because rhinoceros species are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). NParks is investigating this case for offences under the ESA.
3 It is also an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act to launder the benefits derived from wildlife trade offences. As such, the Commercial Affairs Department of the Singapore Police Force is working with NParks to investigate if there are money laundering activities linked to this case. MAS also supervises financial institutions, which are subject to strict requirements against money laundering. If there are breaches against these requirements, MAS will take robust enforcement actions against the financial institutions.
4 As part of their investigations, agencies are also looking into whether there are any associations with organised crime. We will also work closely with the source and destination countries and assist international organisations, such as CITES and INTERPOL, with their further investigations and enforcement efforts on this case.