Skippers told to pay back £1.2 million for illegal landings scam
May 18 2012 Fish2Fork
A trawler skipper who took part in a scam to evade quota limits by landing fish without declaring them has been served with a confiscation order of £1 million pounds.
Ian Buchan, master of the Quantas, was ordered to pay £1 million for his role in an organised back market fish scam that was described as “an episode of shame” for the fishing industry.
Three other skippers were also given confiscation orders by the High Court in Edinburgh today. James Duthie, master of the Sunbeam, is to pay £99,000, Stephen Bellany, master of the Unity, must pay £64,612 and Oswald McRonald, master of the Quantas, was ordered to pay £23,669.
All four men pleaded guilty to landing undeclared fish at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, at an earlier hearing. Sentencing was deferred until July.
Cephas Ralph, Head of Compliance at Marine Scotland said: "Today’s court activity was the successful result of long running and complex joint operations into large-scale illegality at a small number of processing plants initially uncovered during factory raids over six years ago.
“This action has prompted huge improvements in levels of compliance but my officers remain continuously vigilant in monitoring the enormous quantities of valuable Herring and Mackerel handled by Scottish processing plants."
Lesley Thomson QC, the Solicitor General in Scotland, said after the court hearing: “Serious and organised crime can take many forms and these individuals were involved in significant organised criminality.
“They put their own financial gain first and sought to obtain staggering amounts of money with blatant disregard for the impact such large scale overfishing would have.
“Our message is very clear that there is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime and we will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies to use Proceeds of Crime laws to make Scotland an increasingly hostile place for these criminals.”
Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police led the police investigation and said: "The significant sums of money seized under the Proceeds of Crime legislation clearly show that these men were involved in a highly organised criminal enterprise for their own profit."
Confiscation proceedings and sentencing for six more skippers are scheduled to take place on July 16 when confiscation proceedings against the fish processing factory, Fresh Catch Ltd, are expected to take place.
In February 17 skippers were fined £720,000 after admitting playing a part in the £47.5million ‘black fish’ scam. The judge. Lord Turnbull, said they had shamed the industry.
See also greedy-and-shameful-fishermen-condemned-for-47-million-black-fish-scam
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