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Ten Fisherman Handed Fines And Confiscation Orders Worth Almost 1.2M

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 05:37 PM

Courtesy of STV @ http://news.stv.tv/s...rth-almost-12m/

Ten fishermen involved in landing undeclared fish in a scam worth tens of millions of pounds have been handed fines and confiscation orders worth almost £1.2m.

The group previously pleaded guilty to landing undeclared fish at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd between 2002 and 2005.

The offences related to illegal landings of herring and mackerel in respect of which processing firm Shetland Catch assisted vessel skippers who falsely declared the quantity of fish they landed to evade the annual fishing quota allowed to each vessel.

The scam was worth around £23m.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Monday Ian Buchan, 55, was fined £100,000, James Duthie, 55, was fined £35,000, Oswald McRonald, 64, £12,000 and John MacLeod, 57, £50,000

Michael MacLeod, 33, was fined £8000 and Stephen Bellany, 49, was fined £35,000.

John Smith, 37, was fined £40,000 and handed a £150,000 confiscation order while James Smith, 54, was fined £10,000 and given a £30,000 confiscation order.

Allan Simpson, 43, and Ernest Simpson, 65, were handed £361,621 and £362,826 confiscation orders respectively and will be sentenced in September.

Lindsey Miller, head of the serious and organised crime division, said: "These individuals used incredibly complex and devious methods to under-declare their fish landings.

"They had no regard for the law or for the consequences such large-scale overfishing would have on fish stocks, the environment or the hard-working fishermen trying to make an honest living in the industry.

"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."

Confiscation proceedings and sentence against fish processing factory Fresh Catch Ltd will take place in September at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Ian Buchan, James Duthie, Oswald McRonald, John MacLeod, Michael MacLeod and Stephen Bellany have already been handed confiscation orders of more than £1.3m between them.

The convictions came as the result of a seven-year investigation, Operation Trawler, after the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency, now Marine Scotland, became suspicious about widespread illegal landing of fish within the pelagic fleet.

Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, who led the police investigation, said: "This is another example of individuals amassing huge sums of money by their serious and organised criminal acts. Make no mistake, these men made a conscious decision to commit these crimes and to continue to do so over a protracted period.

"The actions of these men and the others who have been brought before the court as a result of the Operation Trawler investigation have tarnished not only themselves, but I am afraid also those other honest hard-working fishermen who choose to make a living by perfectly legal means."

Earlier this month Shetland Catch was hit with a £1.5m confiscation order and fined £150,000.
The company, based in Gremista, Lerwick, had previously pleaded guilty to assisting vessel skippers in making undeclared landings.

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