Company fined £1.5m for violation of Endangered Species Act.
A jewellery manufacturer in the US Virgin Islands has been charged for the false labelling and importing of environmentally protected black coral.
Gem Manufacturing knowingly accepted the coral from a Chinese company, Peng Chia, which supplied Gem Manufacturing with around 8,000 pounds of raw black coral.
The species is internationally protected by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
Gem Manufacturing has been charged with false labelling, a violation of the Endangered Species Act, with batches of the coral labelled as ‘plastic’ or ‘craft work’ to cover up the content of the shipments.
A plea agreement was reached on May 26 with the US Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and the local US Attorney on charges of importing prohibited black coral.
Gem Manufacturing has agreed to pay a $2.5m fine (£1.5m), with an amount donated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the University of the Virgin Islands Marine and Environmental Studies program.
The company has also been placed on organizational probation for three and a half years and agreed to implement a tracking program for its coral stock.