Fish Crime Symposium, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cape Town, 12-15 October 2015, Day 2 No 20 – Bernard Liedemann from DAFF SA – Whistleblowers, Co-operation with US, Maritime Crime, Organised crime
It started with civil society. In other words, they dealt with an informant in this case. The case would probably have never been if it wasn’t for that individual who provided that first information of that crime. That individual also provided the information on three individual cases, but he provided that information to the wrong people. The 14 officials who were corrupted in the case. We received that information and made it a success story. But it couldn’t be done on their own. The head investigator of the scorpions at the time had brilliant investigative skills and took the case to the next level.
The point is that it is not one person’s work. Fisheries crime is organised crime. The level of international support against fish crime is unheard of.
When they first received the information about the crime, there were Patagonian toothfish and west coast rock lobster tails in the container. The second container was intersected in the US. They only went back two years in the investigation, and the fines and asset forfeiture was in excess of 44 million Rand. It still remains the biggest case ever, but the US did an excellent job and they put the main culprit in prison.
What was also good, not illustrating the excellent cooperation, is that the South Coast Rock Lobster at the time was in threat. This has now turned around.
In 2006, there was a specific case where the cold storage was searched and a number of abalones were seized in the premises. They were on route to Singapore and Malaysia and destined for Hong Kong, and were all returned successfully.