Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has grabbed headlines in recent months for its big acquisitions ($900 million for messaging platform Viber) and investments ($100 million in Pinterest). Now it’s making news for a different reason: This week, British environmental group the Environmental Investigation Agency, along with the Humane Society International, published a report (PDF) describing Rakuten as “the world’s largest online trader in elephant ivory and whale products.”
The group found thousands of listings and ads for whale meat and ivory on Rakuten Ichiba, the company’s Japanese e-commerce site, which launched in 1997 and is now the largest online marketplace in Japan.
Rakuten has been pushing hard to expand its presence and business holdings around the world. In addition to the Pinterest stake and Viber acquisition, the company owns Buy.com, Play.com, ebook company Kobo and streaming video service Wuaki.tv.
In a statement on the company’s website…
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