Shetland Catch took part in the UK's biggest fraud involving illegal fish landings. (Photo: Stock File/FIS)
Shetland Catch resists confiscation over fish scam
Thursday, April 19, 2012, 04:20 (GMT + 9)
Shetland Catch Ltd has admitted to partaking in fish fraud and has lost millions of pounds as a result. The company was involved in illegal landings of fish valued at tens of millions of pounds at its processing plant in Lerwick between January 2002 and March 2005.
A confiscation hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh taking place this week is expected to go on for several days.
Judge Lord Turnbull was told that Shetland Catch was fighting an attempt by the Crown to seize GBP 6 million (EUR 7.3 million), but the company cannot be fined until the matter of compensation has been resolved, BBC reports.
Advocate depute Barry Divers said that was the sum the company had earned from the black fish scam and which made up more than a third of Shetland Catch’s profits during the years it was engaging in illegal operations, Shetland Times reports.
While Defence QC David Burns agreed that the scheme had helped the firm make more than GBP 6 million from illegal landings of mackerel and herring, he noted that Shetland Catch had also paid tax on those illegal earnings.
The fish processing firm also claims that once the scam was revealed, the company went into the red when quotas were cut in following years. As such, annual profits exceeding GBP 3 million (EUR 3.6 million) became losses of more than GBP 2 million (EUR 2.4 million).
"A quota claw-back had a direct and initially catastrophic effect," concluded a report by Shetland Catch's accountants.
The total allegedly amounted to close to GBP 11 million (EUR 13.3 million).
“There was no benefit because of the effects of quota payback and other issues,” said Burns.
Burns said the court should also consider the thousands lost when Shetland Catch was closed down for three days during the investigation, plus the costs of re-structuring the company due to the losses.
Last February, 17 Scottish skippers and a processing firm were fined almost GBP 1 million (EUR 1.2 million) for taking part in the UK's biggest fraud involving illegal fish landings.
- Skippers fined EUR 850,000 over 'black fish' fraud
By Natalia Real