In the Media

Scottish trawlerman has ?1m seized for role in fisheries scandal

PUBLISHED May 18, 2012

A Scottish trawler skipper has had £1m seized by the courts after pleading guilty to a major role in one of Europe's largest illegal fisheries scandals.

Ian Buchan, 55, from Peterhead, was given the £1m confiscation order after he admitted illegally landing and then selling nearly £4.5m worth of mackerel in a highly sophisticated "black landing" scam to evade European fishing quotas.

The confiscation order, made at the high court in Edinburgh on Friday under legislation introduced to combat organised crime, is one of the largest ever made against an individual by the Scottish courts.

The record remains a £1.3m fine against Michael Voudouri, for a £3m VAT evasion in 2006, while the engineering firm Weir Group was fined £3m and had £13.9m of profits confiscated for evading sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq.

Buchan was among four skippers given confiscation orders for their part in landing over-quota fish at two processing factories in Peterhead, which have also been convicted and fined for handling tens of millions of pounds worth of illegally caught mackerel and herring.

By March this year, 27 skippers and three processing factories, including Shetland Catch outside Lerwick, Shetland, pleaded guilty to illegally landing £63m worth fish over a five-year period. By that point, the largest single confiscation order was £425,900.

The master of the vessel Quantus, Buchan landed at Fresh Catch in Peterhead, which had fitted an underground pipe and switching valves, operated from an anonymous and clandestine hut known as the Wendy House, which was disguised with fake "Danger: high voltage" signs on its door.

The confiscation orders issued on Friday against the other three skippers totalled £187,281.