‘Black fish’ family admit £6m scam to evade EU quotas
Four fishermen from the same family have admitted illegally landing £6.6 million-worth of herring and mackerel.
Andrew Tait, 50, William Tait, 50, Robert Tait, 45, and Peter Tait, 44, committed the offences at Shetland Catch in Lerwick and Alexander Buchan in Peterhead between 2002 and 2006.
They falsely declared the amount of fish landed, to evade the annual fishing quota allowed for their vessels. The value of each of their undeclared landings were: Andrew Tait £1,671,622.58; William Tait £1,585,870.32; Robert Tait £1,759,298.66; and Peter Tait £1,574,549.78; totalling around £6.6 million
All four pled guilty at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday and will be sentenced on 6 September.
Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office’s serious and organised crime division, said: “The guilty pleas today followed an extensive and complex investigation undertaken jointly by Grampian Police and Northern Constabulary under the direction of the serious and organised crime division of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, and with assistance from Marine Scotland.
“A number of other skippers and processing plants have already been successfully prosecuted, had confiscation orders made against them and sentenced for similar offences.
“The legislation is there to protect the marine environment for the good of all and to safeguard the future of the fishing industry. Those who disregard it for their own financial gain will be brought to justice and made to pay for their crimes.
“These prosecutions should send a clear message that there is no place in Scotland for those who want a lifestyle funded by crime.”
Detective Superintendent Gordon Gibson of Grampian Police, who led the “black fish” investigation, said: “These four men were an organised crime group who committed crimes for huge financial gain over a prolonged period. They were highly organised and clearly knew what they were doing and that this was wrong, however, they chose to put their own greed ahead of the law.
“I hope by their appearance in court this demonstrates to them, and others who may ponder similar conduct, that it was and will not be tolerated.”
Cephas Ralph, head of compliance at Marine Scotland, said: “The recording of this guilty plea today marks another important milestone in this long and difficult inquiry
“The scale of this investigation is without precedent within Scotland. It has uncovered a period in the past where a small minority have cast a shadow over the hard work done by the majority of Scottish fishermen.
“Some have characterised this as being motivated by greed and on the basis of what I have seen and heard, I find it hard to take issue with that conclusion.”
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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