WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Malaysian national Teo Boon Ching, the Teo Boon Ching Wildlife Trafficking Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO), and the Malaysian company Sunrise Greenland Sdn. Bhd. for the cruel trafficking of endangered and threatened wildlife and the products of brutal poaching. Teo Boon Ching specializes in the transportation of rhino horn, ivory, and pangolins from Africa, generally utilizing routes through Malaysia and Laos and onward to consumers in Vietnam and China.
“Wildlife trafficking groups are cruel and inhumane, and they also perpetuate corruption and illicit finance,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States considers wildlife trafficking to be not only a critical conservation concern, but also a threat to global security.”
Today’s action is the result of a collaboration between the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of State, and the U.S Department of Justice. The United States appreciates the assistance of the Royal Thai Government in this case.
INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING
Despite the fact that the international trade in rhino horn has been highly regulated and largely banned for decades, horns and items carved from those horns remain highly valued commodities in certain countries. As a result of widespread poaching between 1970 and 1992, an estimated 96 percent of black rhinos, one of two types of African rhino species, were lost to poaching. Today, there are only approximately 5,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild. International agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), exist to ensure the trade in wild animals does not threaten their survival. Black rhinos, African elephants found in certain African countries, and some species of pangolins are currently listed by CITES as threatened with extinction, its most severe category. Trade in such species is only permitted in exceptional circumstances.
Today, wildlife poaching is often coordinated by organized criminal syndicates. Specialized transporters, such as Teo Boon Ching, smuggle the resulting wildlife parts, such as rhino horn and ivory, out of Africa and onward to other countries, primarily in Asia. During his two-decade long involvement in the illegal wildlife trade, Teo Boon Ching claims to have transported multiple metric tons of rhino horn, ivory, and pangolins. Some of the rhino horn shipments Teo Boon Ching transported were derived from the critically endangered black rhino.
TEO BOON CHING
Although Teo Boon Ching has been publicly linked to the illicit wildlife trade for years, he has evaded justice and continued to operate his illicit transportation enterprise. On June 29, 2022, Teo Boon Ching was arrested in Thailand based on a request from the United States and in accordance with the bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Thailand. Today, an indictment was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging Teo Boon Ching with conspiracy to engage in wildlife trafficking and money laundering.
OFAC is designating the Teo Boon Ching Wildlife Trafficking TCO pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13581, as amended, for being a foreign person that constitutes a significant transnational criminal organization. Teo Boon Ching is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13581, as amended, for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the Teo Boon Ching Wildlife Trafficking TCO. Teo Boon Ching’s Malaysia-based company Sunrise Greenland Sdn. Bhd. is being designated pursuant to E.O. 13581, as amended, for being owned or controlled by, directly or indirectly, Teo Boon Ching.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is a member of the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking, established by E.O. 13648, which coordinates a U.S. government-wide approach to combat wildlife trafficking. To implement its strategy to combat wildlife trafficking, Treasury uses numerous preventive, diagnostic, and pressure tools, including the application of economic sanctions, when appropriate.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or persons within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. U.S. persons may face civil or criminal penalties for violations of E.O. 13581, as amended, or the Transnational Criminal Organizations Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. Part 590.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list.
This post has been updated to include the indictment unsealed by the US. District Court for the Southern District of New York.