Companies created to smuggle perlemoen out of SA as 'pilchards', court finds

2017-09-04 17:38
(File, SAPS)

(File, SAPS)

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Cape Town – The State has proved beyond reasonable doubt that there was an enterprise that illegally exported perlemoen (abalone) to Hong Kong by pretending the containers were filled with frozen pilchards, the Western Cape High Court found on Monday.

Judge Patrick Gamble said he was satisfied that the enterprise existed, after regarding the totality of evidence and the testimony of a man who turned State witness.

He was handing down judgment in a drawn-out case against nine men accused of being involved in the criminal enterprise.

The accused are Phillip James Miller, Willem Jacobus van Rensburg, Adriaan Gavin Wildschutt, Tony Peter du Toit, Johannes Emil Liebenberg, Rodney Onkruid, Stanley Sifiso Dlamini, Desmond David Pienaar and Gregory Abrahams.

Gamble had yet to deliver findings on whether the accused were involved in the enterprise and/or whether they knew the enterprise was unlawful.

He would continue delivering the judgment on Tuesday.

The group face 116 counts relating to fraud, racketeering and contravention of the Marine Living Resources Act.

A number of the offences fall under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The group was nabbed during a string of arrests in 2006.

A police operation uncovered batches of perlemoen at several fish processing plants and storage units across the Western Cape.

Companies created

These finds included around 82 700 units of perlemoen at a cold storage unit in the Port of Cape Town and around 24 600 units of dried perlemoen on a farm in Rawsonville.

Some of those who were arrested entered a plea agreement in 2006. The remaining accused went on trial in 2008.

The State alleged that the criminal enterprise comprised three central figures: Yu-Chen Chao, Miller and Salvin James Africa.

Africa became a section 204 witness and testified for the State.

Chao last appeared in court in 2013, where he was given permission to travel to China, but he never returned.

He is wanted by Interpol, along with another co-accused Yen-Chang Ku. Ku apparently left the country at the end of 2008.

According to the State, the companies "Rapitrade 109 PTY LTD" and "Syroun Exports PTY LTD" were created in order to facilitate the exports.

Fraudulent documentation was allegedly created to pass the containers through customs.

Read more on:    anc  |  hong kong  |  cape town  |  crime

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