25 Sep 2014

Property, cash seized in fishing raids

4:07 pm on 25 September 2014

Properties, vehicles and cash have been seized during raids related to a Hawke's Bay fishing company, a police spokesperson says.



Police searched several properties and seized items connected to Hawke's Bay Seafoods, which is suspected of illegal fishing.

Eighty-eight officials, including Primary Industries' fisheries officers and police, visited sites in Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Tauranga, Gisborne, the Chatham Islands and Christchurch yesterday.

Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Murray said eight residential properties and a commercial property located in Gisborne, Napier, Hastings and Havelock North had been seized, as had more than $24,000.

"The investigation has been into Hawke's Bay Seafoods and individuals linked to that company, and the property that we've restrained is a direct result of the investigations, so they are all persons who have some sort of link or role with the company."

Mr Murray said it would be up to the High Court to determine whether the seized assets could be forfeited to the Crown. The seized property is now in the control of an official assignee.

"We have two aspects of legislation. One is what we call an assets forefeiture order, where we allege that property is tainted or purchased from the proceeds of crime. The second is what we call a profit forefeiture order, where we allege a person has benefited and we look to redress that benefit from assets they may have."

Ministry for Primary Industries compliance director Dean Baigent yesterday said documents were being assessed and it could be months before a prosecution.

"It is a lot of information. Information off nine vessels, interviewing the skippers, all of the documentation through a reasonable size fishing company," he said.

"At the extreme end, $250,000 per offence and or a custodial sentence up to five years, is the maximum that could be applied to this level of offending."

The directors of Hawke's Bay Seafoods did not respond to calls from Radio New Zealand News this morning.