Lob­ster fraud

Three fac­ing charges in com­plex, $3 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional case

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton/Province -

More than $3 mil­lion worth of lob­ster is at the cen­tre of a com­plex, in­ter­na­tional case in­volv­ing fraud and theft al­le­ga­tions against three men from south­west­ern Nova Sco­tia, RCMP said Tues­day.

“They’ve been in the lob­ster in­dus­try for quite some time,’’ RCMP Supt. Martin Marin said in an in­ter­view. “They have deep roots.’’

The Moun­ties’ in­ves­ti­ga­tion started in July 2015 when al­le­ga­tions arose that a man from Shag Har­bour, N.S., had al­legedly de­frauded a Shel­burne County lob­ster com­pany of $175,000 dur­ing the pre­vi­ous fish­ing sea­son.

Dur­ing the course of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the RCMP looked into sim­i­lar al­le­ga­tions that a lob­ster com­pany in Clark’s Har­bour had been de­frauded of over $500,000 in 2014-15.

RCMP say they also in­ves­ti­gated al­le­ga­tions that a Bar­ring­ton com­pany was de­frauded of over $500,000, a Shel­burne County com­pany was de­frauded of $1.7 mil­lion and a com­pany in Tai­wan was de­frauded of over $250,000 — all in 2015-16.

Marin de­clined to of­fer de­tails about the al­le­ga­tions, noth­ing that none has been proven in court.

Three men from Shel­burne County were ar­rested last Wed­nes­day.

Marin said the three have sub­stan­tial reach and in­flu­ence on the lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional seafood mar­kets.

“It’s a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try,’’ he said. “And where there’s op­por­tu­nity, there’s also crimes of op­por­tu­nity. It seems as though that is what tran­spired here.’’

The lob­ster busi­ness re­mains the most lu­cra­tive fish­ery in Canada, pro­duc­ing more than $1 bil­lion in com­mer­cial land­ings last year.

The 10,000 li­censed en­ter­prises in Que­bec and the At­lantic prov­inces em­ploy about 30,000 har­vesters — and they’ve been mak­ing big money in re­cent years. In 2015, 82,700 tonnes of Cana­dian lob­ster was ex­ported — 80 per cent of it to the United States — gen­er­at­ing $2.03 bil­lion in rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to fed­eral fig­ures.

Amid grow­ing de­mand for the tasty crus­taceans, fish­er­men have been haul­ing in record catches that are com­mand­ing the high­est prices in more than a decade.

The mar­ket for lob­ster has been get­ting a boost from the weak Cana­dian dol­lar, grow­ing de­mand from China and a shift in con­sumer tastes to­ward pro­cessed meat in ev­ery­thing from lob­ster rolls to lob­ster mac­a­roni and cheese.

The big­gest lob­ster fish­ery in Canada can be found in south­west­ern Nova Sco­tia, where there are more than 3,000 fish­er­men and deck­hands.

The Moun­ties say their re­cent in­ves­ti­ga­tion in that area in­cluded help from Fish­eries and Oceans Canada, the Cana­dian Food In­spec­tion Agency, Canada Rev­enue Agency, the Fi­nan­cial Trans­ac­tions and Re­ports Anal­y­sis Cen­tre of Canada and the Nova Sco­tia De­part­ment of Fish­eries.

Terry Dale Banks, 51, of Shag Har­bour, is fac­ing four counts of fraud over $5,000 and three counts of theft over $5,000 in­volv­ing four lob­ster com­pa­nies: In­de­pen­dent Fish­eries Ltd. in Shel­burne; Stoney Is­land Fish­eries Ltd. in Bar­ring­ton; CRT Seafoods Ltd. in Clark’s Har­bour, and the Sure First Seafood Com­pany Ltd., based in Tai­wan.

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