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Illegal Fish Landings


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Are you quite sure of this? After all, the BBC news site reported this, regarding the matter:-

 

"The SFPA had launched an investigation due to suspicions of widespread illegal landing of pelagic fish."

 

I am aware that Mr Jackson, QC, has submitted, in the case of his client, that said earnings were put through his books and subject to tax, however, it is not clear (to my knowledge) whether all involved were doing so. Mr Jackson described his client's situation as "quite unique".

 

It appears they may have rumbled by other means, however, feel free to enlighten me otherwise.

 

Your humble servant. :?:

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FUrther to my last post, and from our own Shetland Times, dated 5th October 2010:-

 

"Mr Ferguson said that the SFPA, which is now Marine Scotland, had “suspicions that there was widespread illegal landing of pelagic fishâ€. Accountants were brought in to analyse the accounts at all eight processing factories dealing with mackerel and herring landings.

 

The investigation found that the Shetland Catch factory had earnings that could not be supported by its declared landings."

 

In respect of wrongdoings by the Taxman, in taking "his" cut of the declared earnings, as with most crimes or offences, mens rea or "guilty mind" would be a fairly essential element here, I would suggest. To wit, the Taxman would need to have full knowledge of the illicit nature of the scheme, or of the nature of the income declared by the relevant party or parties, in order for there to be any suggestion of wrong-doing.

 

If I extort monies with menaces from businesses, and declare my earnings through my legitimate business, paying the requisite tax on same, the Taxman is not complicit in my criminality.

 

Most fishermen are dealt with on a firm basis by the Inland Revenue, however, they simply do not have the manpower or means to enquire into the "guts" (pardon the pun) of accounts submitted by every fisherman, or every vessel as a limited company.

 

Instead, in my experience, periodically, certain "self-employed" occupations or trades are (or at least were) selected for "dip-sampling" by investigators for the old Revenue, in departments labelled 'Black Economy' investigation units. As the Revenue was cut back and cut back, these units were reduced and removed, until, last I heard, there were only two or three persons, within the entire Highlands & Islands, carrying out such enquiries, while the bulk of resources were shifted to the Central Belt, where financial criminality and money-laundering was steadily growing.

 

The Revenue has obviously changed since this time, however, I do not believe there will have been sufficient funding increases to allow for an even greater presence than they had in previous years, which would have enabled them to examine each set of accounts in detail, and thereby detect the illicit scheme.

 

Instead, it appears likely that, following the suspicions described by the SFPA, forensic accountants would have been tasked by the authorities to enquire specifically into the factories concerned. The vessels and fishermen were simply a logical progression, once the knot began to unravel...

 

But as I say, feel free to enlighten me otherwise. I am a seeker of knowledge, after all.

 

The answer to the OP's question, therefore, is "Yes, however, there is no wrongdoing on the part of the Taxman". You could say that it is the State - i.e. all of us - that benefits from the "honesty" of the individual/s concerned...

 

Your humble servant.

 

Post Scriptum

 

paulb,

 

The Police do not "take their boats". They may seize assets on behalf of the Crown, if there is reasonable cause or evidence to suspect or prove that such assets are the results or proceeds of criminality. The Proceeds of Crime Act is fairly stringent in the requirements for seizure of assets. Unlike our American cousins, you will not find Police units utilising seized Ferraris or Porsches, or our local detectives cutting through the Sound of Bressay, sunglasses on, at high speed in their confiscated Cigar Boat Racer... 8) :wink:

 

This is a common misconception, along with "the Police letting someone off", when they have been acquitted or discharged by the Court, or that Police Officers divide up the spoils from various fines issued, for their benefit. Other than running costs and administration fees, the monies gathered go to the Treasury.

 

Just ask these two chappies from down Glasgow way, who have been in the news the last day or so, what their view on PoCA is. I am sure they will be voluble and full of praise for the legislation! :wink:

 

YHS :)

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The Taxman most certainly made a mint from the Illegal landings. Why have the rest o da scotty fishermen not been prosecuted? And why have no S.F.P officers been prosecuted for their part in the corruption?

 

There's already a thread on this in the News section, but I believe the moderators collect their pensions from the Post Office on Thursday morning...

 

So....

 

No other fishermen have been prosecuted because this case is specific to what happened at Shetland catch - they had scales that deliberately underweighed the catches. (alkthough there has been another similar smaller case at Peterhead recently)

 

I'm guessing there were many others boats that used Catch who weren't prepared to join the 'racket'

 

The SFP officers only had access to the fiddled scales, there were another correct set of scales elsewhere in Catch but the SFP officers weren't allowed access to this area.

 

I presume the correct scales were used by Catch to buy the fish - and were therefore used to pay tax.

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There is a bit more detail on how the weights were fiddled here

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-16353451

 

Weighing scales at Shetland Fisheries were linked to computer screens showing the weight of fish landed.

 

The screen in the main floor of the fisheries, which was viewed by SFPA officials, was set to give a lower weight of fish than had been landed.

 

The proper weight was displayed on a screen in the engineer's room, in a part of the operation which was off limits to SFPA officials.

 

The SFPA had launched an investigation due to suspicions of widespread illegal landing of pelagic fish.

 

Some Scottish skippers were caught

 

Victor Buschini, 51, of Cuckoos Nest, Kiln Lane, Hambleton, Poulton Le Flyde, Lancashire - £341,000, and Hamish Slater, 52, of 8 Strichan Road, Fraserburgh - £425,900.

 

...

Alexander Masson, 65, of 89 Strichen Road, Fraserburgh - £283,000 and Alexander Wiseman, 60, of 3 Sandyhills Gardens, Banff - £196,000.

 

Shetland Catch is by far the largest pelagic factory in the UK but a lot of pelagic boats land their catches elsewhere in Europe so only if other countries start enquiries will the full extent become known.

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I find this entire affair smells of something very dodgy – and not in the way it has been reported so far.

 

First of all there has either been very lazy journalism by our local hacks or a deliberate policy to avoid digging up anything controversial.

 

Everything reported so far appears to be just verbatim reproductions of press releases issued by marine Scotland or the crown. No investigative journalism to get to the bones of this. These are local guys and whatever way you look at it they have contributed loads to the Shetland economy.

 

Why no attempt from our local media to see another side to the story and show some support?

 

I keep reading that marine Scotland was denied access to some parts of Shetland Catch’s factory? They have always been legally entitled to go anywhere they please in any fish processing factory in the land so this is nonsense. If they didn’t find something they simply didn’t look hard enough or didn’t bother to look at all.

 

This problem was endemic in the pelagic industry right from klondyking days. Anybody who thinks it is consigned to a certain proportion of the industry is either ignorant, deluded or just plain dishonest. Every single player in that industry was involved to some extent. It is well known.

 

How did this situation evolve? Well where was the enforcement and what were they doing during all this time?

 

Were they inept, negligent, corrupt or just plain useless?

 

I understand that nothing has changed with inspections at Shetland Catch – they just count the pallets into the cold store like they always could have done and always were entitled to do. Seems to all work fine and everything above board and compliant.

 

How was it so difficult to do this before?

 

It can’t be too challenging to check what’s going on there. Even to the layman there seems to be several simple approaches - all fish is loaded into reefers and the figures are, and always have been, readily available. Just phone LPA, the customs or the stevedore company. And it can’t be too difficult to go into a cold store and check what’s there. How does the Catch do a stock take for god’s sake? That applies to all processors and to factory ships. They all needed dockets and records to ship their cargo surely.

 

So why was Shetland picked out?

 

Nah, something very fishy (pardon the pun) going on that they randomly selected the Catch and the Whalsay guys after all those years and then hung them out to dry.

 

If there was no police to check closing times at pubs and everyone drank to when they liked what pub is going to close at the legal time? The one that wants to go out of business that’s who!

 

And then suddenly after many years of this practice one pub in the middle of nowhere is raided by a swat team and the owner and all drinkers of that pub are charged with the most heinous crimes and all other pubs are just ignored and allowed to start complying then there would be an outcry.

 

That is what seems to have happened. I don’t think these guys are the master criminals they are painted to be.

 

When they first started fishing mackerel it was waste fish that no one gave a rats bum about it. Government was glad someone could scratch a living from it and nobody gave a hoot about mackerel stocks then. Fisherman up here endured many tough, impoverished and dangerous years before it came to anything. Who cares to remember those times now?

 

Then, after all that time, it eventually became a valuable species all the precedents, lack of proper attention and enforcement became apparent and the government suddenly had a runaway bull they didn’t know what to do with . And their answer? – just go into the china shop with it and create chaos.

 

It’s all up the creek if you ask me. Something stinks - and it aint just rotten mackerel.

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They knew the rules, they knew the risks and they've had their court appearance.

 

Stop trying to justify criminal activity with half arsed bleating and attempts to divert blame. They got caught. End of.

 

If this was some skaghead who had knicked a dvd player froma house in Lerwick, half the wailing clowns on here would be baying for their blood and demanding stiffer penalties.

 

:roll:

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