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Chinese medicine company fined £21,000 for selling remedies containing endangered plants

PUBLISHED: 10:54 23 August 2012 | UPDATED: 11:09 23 August 2012

Illegal remedies were seized by police from a shop and warehouse belonging to Beijing Tong Ren Tang

Illegal remedies were seized by police from a shop and warehouse belonging to Beijing Tong Ren Tang

Archant

Beijing Tong Ren Tang (UK) Ltd have a warehouse in Commercial Way, Park Royal

What is the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)?

CITES is an international agreement between governments that came into force in 1975.

A country’s participation is voluntary and does not replace its individual laws.

A CITES permit is required for the import and export of certain species for commercial gain.

Some endangered species are banned from being traded altogether including gorillas, cheetah and red pandas.

A traditional Chinese medicine company has been fined £21,000 for selling illegal herbal remedies containing endangered plants.

Beijing Tong Ren Tang (UK) Ltd, who have a warehouse in Commercial Way, Park Royal, sold products suspected of containing or claiming to contain Aucklandia costus, Dendrobium, Cibotium Barometz, Gastrodia and Cistanche Deserticola.

The company were snared after the police teamed up with the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit, UK Border Agency and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency, to storm their shop in the West End.

The company’s warehouse and a property they own in St John’s Wood was also raided simultaneously in February 2010.

Illegal plant remedies items contravening the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species were seized at the shop and warehouse.

The raids took place as part of Operation Tram - an Interpol-led initiative targeting wildlife crime across 18 countries and five continents.

Traditional medicines seized during the global operation have included ingredients derived from tiger, bear and rhinoceros among many others.

During police interviews the director of Beijing Tong Ren Tang claimed two versions of the herbal remedies with the same packaging were available worldwide so they always tried to stock the correct version which did not contain the banned product.

However the company admitted two charges of transporting for sale and five charges of keeping for sale traditional Chinese medicine and were handed down the five-figure fine at Westminster Magistrates’ Court this week.

They were also ordered to pay costs.

Sergeant Ian Knox from the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit said: “Most traditional Chinese medicines are perfectly legal. However, a small number of people continue to trade in illegal products containing ingredients from endangered species. This trade threatens some of the world’s most iconic species, and it will continue as long as the demand exists.

“We all have a part to play in stopping the illegal trade, and if anyone has suspicions about products they have seen on sale I would urge them to contact the police.”


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