A fisherman has been ordered to repay £1 million pounds following his involvement in the so-called ‘Black Fish’ fraud in Scotland. Fifty five year old Ian Buchan has been ordered to pay the figure by the High Court in Edinburgh after pleading guilty to his part in a fraud off the North East coast involving millions of pounds of undeclared fish caught between 2002 and 2005. The confiscation order is one of the largest ever made against an individual in Scotland.

The fraud, which involved some twenty seven trawlers and a network of factories and agents, has been branded ‘an episode of shame’ for the fishing industry. It has emerged that tens of thousands of tonnes of mackerel and herring, the most abundant and profitable fish in the area, were smuggled via underground pipes and illegal conveyor belts to avoid detection by inspectors. The total value of the fraud is estimated at £62.8 million worth of undeclared fish.

Buchan is one of four captains involved in the Black Fish fraud which involved catch at Fresh Catch Ltd and Alexander Buchan Ltd going undeclared. The total amount in confiscation orders in the case exceeded £4 million with a further £1 million ordered in fines. An application has also been made for one of the factories involved in the scam, Shetland Catch Ltd, to be stripped of £6 million.

Due to the large amount being claimed in the fraud and the Proceeds of Crime element to the case, the services of forensic accountants will have been called upon at many stages during this investigation. In cases of fraud accusation, the services of forensic accountancy firms are employed to help assess the information put forward by the prosecuting authorities. Whilst the defendants may be guilty, the amount in calculated fines and POCA confiscation orders are not always correct. In the majority of cases, the ‘facts’ presented can be challenged using an expert forensic accountancy report.

For more information about the use of forensic accountancy in fraud investigations and POCA cases, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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