US court orders SA poacher to hand over R479m

2017-07-21 22:34


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – A US court has ordered convicted lobster poacher Arnold Bengis to forfeit $37m (R479m) to South Africa’s agriculture and fisheries department.

In addition, the 81-year-old was sentenced to four years and nine months in jail, the department's acting chief director for monitoring, Thembalethu Vico, said in a statement on Friday.

The US would release an additional $3m (R38m) in restitution payments to the department, which Bengis and his son David had committed to pay, but never did.

New York Southern District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan handed down the order on Wednesday. Between 1987 and 2000, Bengis was responsible for poaching West Coast Rock Lobster and illegally importing it into the US, resulting in a decline in rock lobster numbers.

Vico said the department had asked for a forfeiture order of approximately $100m (R1.29bn), but was awarded $37m.

Bengis has dual South African and US citizenship and is currently living in Israel.

In 2002, a South African court convicted Bengis’s company, Hout Bay Fishing, of violating the Marine Living Resources Act.

In 2004, US district court convicted Bengis and his son of illegally importing rock lobster into that country. He was jailed for four years and was ordered to pay South Africa over $22 million in restitution. Wednesday’s order meant he would have to spend another nine months in jail.

“In the decade since that order, Bengis has refused to pay, instead shielding his assets in foreign trusts. Judge Kaplan’s order on 19 July served as punishment for Bengis’s failure to comply with his earlier restitution obligations,” the department said.

Vico said illegal fishing was a general problem, but Bengis's case was unique because the crimes had lasted for about 14 years and involved two countries.

The US court had deferred judgement on additional restitution.

Read more on:    us  |  cape town  |  israel  |  marine life  |  poaching

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.