Friday, August 10, 2012

Parliament to probe fraud and fronting in fishing industry

SAPA reports that fronting and fraud have been highlighted as the major factors that will render transformation in the fishing industry impossible, Parliament's fisheries committee chairman, Lulu Johnson, said on Friday.

Johnson addressed the media on the plight of nine black women who are part of a corporation called Meermin Visserye CC.

The women claim their quotas and names were fraudulently being used by a fishing company and an individual, who are making money while they don't see a penny.

The women own a 15-year small pelagic fishing permit, which comes to an end in December 2020.

"Regrettably, the owners of Meermin have been denied the financial benefits of their high-value pelagic quota over the past two years. They have been defrauded and unlawfully denied access to the fishing quota and the income generated from the quota," Johnson said.

Initially, the women used Compass Fishing Enterprises to catch pilchards and anchovies, but terminated the contract in 2009. The fishing company took the women to court, but lost in their attempt to get an interdict against the contract termination, first at the Western Cape High Court, then at the Supreme Court of Appeal. The women later discovered that another individual had since signed a contract on behalf of Meermin, committing the corporation's pelagic fishing quote to Compass Fishing.

Last year Meermin approached the Julius Buchinsky group and concluded a contract to sell its quotas for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

They were unable to sell the 2011 contract, and the Meermin women were forced to sell their boat.

The women say they've not seen a cent of their money from the boat sale, even though they've been told Compass Fishing had transferred about half a million rand to Buchinsky.

Johnson said the police will be asked to probe the matter.

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