Accelerating the recovery of the European Eel

Major court hearing: “Landes: isolated false invoice or fraudulent resale of organized glass eels?”

This article by Arnauld Bernard for Sud Ouest online newspaper reveals new information on a major court case implying fraudulent activity. We have translated the article below so that our english speaking readers might be able to access it:

“The facts date back to 2013, but the investigation leaves many unanswered questions about the practices of this entrepreneur, based between the Landes and Spain, specializing in the purchase and then the resale of glass eels. The Dax court will deliver its judgment at the end of October The thickness of the file examined this Monday, September 27, rare for a hearing of the Criminal Court of Dax, testifies to several months (years?) Of investigation. On January 21, 2013, a Spanish citizen was checked by the gendarmerie at the wheel of a vehicle, with 200,800 euros in cash on board, divided into several pockets; On each, we can read a destination: Nantes, Saintes, etc. The motorist says he is transporting money on behalf of a wholesaler specializing in the purchase and resale of glass eels, based in the Landes, “to pay the fishermen”. It must be said that on January 16 of the same year, it was also during a control that 250 kilos of glass eels were discovered in this company, while only 195 kilos were “justified” by papers allowing their traceability. , from fisherman to buyer. The investigation begins, a search takes place at the home of this boss, business owner, in the Basque Country, where more than 1 million euros in cash is discovered. The accounts of two of his companies are scrutinized. And the investigators quickly see that within the “family” business, where the boss’s wife works and where a third defendant takes care of “the administration”, the invoices pose a problem for the investigators: “Following this control and this missing invoice, I remade an invoice ”, explains the latter, after having told the investigators to have gone in the middle of the night to the company to deposit it.

For the boss, it is “an isolated accident”, everything else is declared and authorized. Elver fishing has been the subject of strict European regulations since 2009. “There are quotas,” explains Maître Ruffié, lawyer for several environmental associations and civil parties in this case. But I note here at least two violations of the environmental code. »Reporting obligations, traceability, fishing records, it is necessary to be able to provide proof, in the event of an inspection, of its integrity.

As for the transfer of sums in cash between Spain and France, “I always respect the fact that we do not have the right to pass more than 10,000 euros at once”, explains the defendant. The prosecution also abandons, at the beginning of its requisitions, customs laundering, for lack of sufficient information. And Me Jauze, from the Paris Bar and delighted with the gift, continued: “What my client is trying to explain to you awkwardly is that in this file, there is only this single false invoice which has consistency. : the fishermen fish, make fishing logs, resell to a first buyer, who delivers to my client in the Landes, who transforms the product and sends it once cooked to Spain. Where is the hidden work? Where is the aggravated money laundering? The civil parties do not provide proof of damage in relation to the environmental code, and the accounts of the companies, audited in 2016 in Spain, are the correct ones. I therefore plead the release on the whole file. While the prosecution has requested suspended prison sentences and heavy fines for the three defendants, the judgment has been reserved for October 25.”

By Arnauld Bernard –
Posted on 09/28/2021 9:31 a.m.