Forensic Accounting Catches The Catchers

Illegal fish catchers have been brought to book through the testimony of expert forensic accountancy witnesses, in a scam known as “black fish’ at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Ten skippers, who pled guilty to the illegal landing of undeclared catches between 2002 and 2005, have been ordered to pay back almost £1.2m in fines and confiscation orders, after admitting their involvement in the scam.

Lindsey Miller, head of the Crown Office serious and organised crime division, said: “These individuals used incredibly complex and devious methods to under declare their fish landings.

“They had no regard for the law or for the consequences such large scale overfishing would have on fish stocks, the environment or the hard working fishermen trying to make an honest living in the industry.”

While Grampian Police Detective Superintendant Gordon Gibson, who led the police investigation into the case, added: “This is another example of individuals amassing huge sums of money by their serious and organised criminal acts.”

And earlier this month, prosecutors claimed that the company, which helped quota-dodging boat skippers land undeclared fish earned more than £6m in illegal profits.

Forensic accountants, including, a member of the Milsted Langdon forensic team have been used extensively to uncover the vast amounts of money involved in the fishing fraud with many hours required to amass and analyse the often complex financial evidence.

Speaking of the scam earlier this year, David Harvie, from the Crown Office, explained: “It’s a multi million pound fraud running into the tens of millions in under declaration of catches.

“It was a massive investigation involving a large part of an industry to gather that amount of information and analyse it. We’re talking about … hours’ worth of accountancy work alone, it’s been an enormous undertaking”.

As an accountant; Roger Isaacs specialises within business turnaround and business valuation.

Posted in Blog, The Forensic Blog.