A woman was taught an expensive lesson as her $19,000 alligator-skin handbag was destroyed by customs officials in Australia because it entered the country without the correct import license.
The Australian Border Force (ABF) seized the Saint Laurent bag, bought online from a boutique in France, for $19,000 at a cargo depot in Perth, Western Australia in January.
According to the ABF, the car had to be confiscated and destroyed, because access of alligator products into the country is controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to ensure they are not linked to the illegal wildlife trade.
According to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, the bag owner did not have a CITES import permit for Australia, even though she had secured an export license from Europe.
As a result, the department said, it confiscated the handbag. However, it decided not to take any further action against the buyer.
Speaking about the incident, Australia’s Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley warned importers that they must have the correct permits to bring certain products into the country.
“We all need to be aware of what we’re purchasing online as restricting the trade of animal products is crucial to the long-term survival of endangered species,” Ley said on Friday, September 4th.
Jason Wood, the Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs, said the country looks out for illegally imported items including “fashion accessories, tourist trinkets, furs, taxidermy animals and ivory.”
In Australia, wildlife trade offenders in the country can be punished for up to 10 years in prison.
Offenders could also suffer as much as a $222,000 fine in Australian dollars.