Alleged Head of Wildlife Smuggling Ring Extradited from Australia

Monday, July 24, 2017

Guan Zong Chen (“Graham Chen”), a Chinese national was arraigned today in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts on charges that he led a conspiracy to illegally export (smuggle) $700,000 worth of wildlife items made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral from the United States to Hong Kong. Chen was arrested last year when he traveled from China to Australia and today’s hearing was his first court appearance on an indictment returned by a Boston grand jury in 2015 and unsealed in anticipation of the hearing.

According to the eight-count indictment, Chen purchased the wildlife artifacts at U.S. auction houses located in California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas. He conspired with another Chinese national, a recent college graduate in China to travel to the United States to pick up the purchased items and either hand carry or arrange for them to be mailed to another co-conspirator that owned a shipping business in Concord, Massachusetts. The shipper then repacked the wildlife items and exported (smuggled) them to Hong Kong with documents that falsely stated their contents and value and without obtaining required declarations and permits. In April 2014, Chen visited the United States and visited the shipper in Concord, Massachusetts. During the visit with the shipper, CHEN instructed the shipper to illegally export (smuggle) a sculpture made from elephant ivory to Hong Kong on Chen’s behalf and falsely declared it to be made of wood and worth $50.

The unsealing of the indictment and court appearance were was announced today by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb of the District of Massachusetts. In announcing the case today, Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood and Acting U.S. Attorney Weinreb expressed their appreciation to the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Attorney-General’s Department for their help in apprehending Chen and extraditing him to the United States.

Trade in rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral have been regulated since 1976 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 175 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. Animals listed under CITES cannot be exported from the United States without prior notification to, and approval from, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

was apprehended as part of Operation Crash, an ongoing effort by the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with the Department of Justice to detect, deter, and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of and trafficking in protected species including rhinoceros and elephants.

An indictment contains allegations that crimes have been committed. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The investigation is continuing and is being handled by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts and support on the extradition from DOJ’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Marshals Services in the District of Massachusetts. The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel Richard A. Udell and Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Antitrust in Asia: HONG KONG: June 2-3, 2016

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I wanted to pass on some information about another great ABA Antitrust Section program“Antitrust In Asia.”  The program is in Hong Kong, China on June 2-3, 2016, but early registration savings end on May 12.  The faculty includes enforcers from China, Competition Commission of Hong Kong, Competition Commission of India, Japan Fair Trade Commission, Korea Fair Trade Commission, Competition Commission of Singapore, and the U.S. DOJ & FTC.

Antitrust enforcement in Asia has taken a prominent and increasingly important place in the global competition ecosystem. This conference features leading enforcers, academics, and practitioners who will address key developments across the Asia-Pacific region, as well as provide conference attendees unique opportunities to interact with top policy-makers.  Here is a link to the full agenda, which includes: Merger Review, Enforcement Directions in Asia, Abuse of Dominance, and Private Actions.  The conference also features a “Roundtable with Enforcers From China’s AML Agencies” (Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC)).  While the panels are always great, even better are the informal encounters with the enforcers, corporate counsel and other colleagues who attend the event.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending.  I blew my modest international travel budget on the ABA Cartel Workshop in Tokyo, Japan in February.  Here is a short Cartel Caper blog post from that conference and a link to a conference follow-up article I wrote for Law 360 (here).  If you do attend the Antitrust in Asia conference and would like to post a blog entry about it, I’d be happy to publish it.  I am always looking to expand the international content of the blog.

Thanks for reading.

Wealthy Max Arranges Events in Hong Kong to Fight Civil Forfeiture Case Challenges Members of Congress and Other Government Officials to See for Themselves if the Company is Guilty

Feb. 9, 2016PRLog — Washington, DC – Wealthy Max Limited (Wealthy Max), a claimant in a federal civil forfeiture case involving supposedly counterfeit coins, today announced that it had invited the members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology as well as senior officials from the Departments of Treasury, Justice and Homeland Security, to attend a briefing and product audit in Hong Kong.  The event is being held as part of the Company’s fight against the civil forfeiture of $2.388 million owed to it by the U.S. Mint.  It will also demonstrate once and for all that Wealthy Max does not traffic in counterfeit U.S. coins.

On February 23rd there will be a briefing by Wealthy Max executives and a public unsealing of 13 metric tons of damaged U.S. coins that were destined to be shipped to the U.S. Mint until the civil fortitude caused a halt to operations.  The unsealing will be overseen by former U.S. FBI agents who are members of the

On February 24th Wealthy Max will organize a trip to Foshan, China, to visit metal recycling companies where the Company sources its coins.  Participants will see the hand-sorting process that yields damaged U.S. coins, as well as the growing stockpiles of coins that would have been returned to the U.S. Mint, but for this unjust civil forfeiture action.

“The members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology have oversight responsibility for the U.S. Mint, and should have a keen interest in this case, as it reflects unprecedented executive branch over reach, which could impact perceptions of the government’s commitment to full faith and credit in our currency,” said Bradford L. Geyer, counsel for Wealthy Max.  “Going back to the founding documents of our country, the Secretary of the Mint, with Congressional oversight, has the sole responsibility for the minting of coins and sourcing materials to be used in those coins.  The actions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security have effectively usurped this responsibility.”

“Wealthy Max has been a reliable supplier to the U.S. Mint for over a decade and we have successfully redeemed more than 160 shipments of coins in that time,” said Matthew Wong, director, Wealthy Max Limited. “We were shocked by the accusations against us, and the unjust seizure of our property by the U.S. government.  We have been treated like criminals who have no rights.  This is why we are demanding our property back, and more, we are demanding justice for ourselves and others who have been wronged by the U.S. authorities.  Before these officials accuse us of being criminals, they should come to Hong Kong to see for themselves our product and our supply chain.”

In addition to the members of congress and their staffs, and the other U.S. government officials who have been invited to this event, Wealthy Max has extended invitations to local and international media, and members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.