Qian Hu worker accused of smuggling fish

Seven smuggled fish found in the luggage of a man after he arrived at Adelaide Airport on Feb 2, 2015.

ADELAIDE, Australia - An employee of Singapore ornamental fish firm Qian Hu appeared before an Adelaide court yesterday in a case of smuggling of exotic fish.

Customs officers allegedly found 20 plastic bags containing live and dead endangered fish, worth A$235,000 (S$247,000), concealed in the bag of Alex Chang Kuok Weai, 44, when he landed at the city's airport on Feb 2.

Around 26 of the fish are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, ABC news reported.

The find sparked an international investigation, the magistrate's court heard yesterday. Chang may plead guilty to importing a protected species at his next hearing in three weeks. He is in custody, because a suitable bail address was not found.

In a statement, Chang's employer Qian Hu said that its employee, head of the group integrated research and development department, was on annual leave when he visited Australia in his personal capacity.

"We are not in a position to comment, as this case is in the hands of the Australian authorities," a spokesman told The Straits Times.

The prosecution told the court it appeared that many of the fish had been microchipped, a common practice for rare and exotic species in parts of Asia.

A search of two properties linked to Chang in Adelaide led to the discovery of more exotic fish, it was alleged.

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.