Cape Town - David Bengis, son of former Cape Town fishing magnate and convicted poacher and smuggler Arnold Bengis, has agreed to pay $1.25 million (R17.3m) to the South African government as restitution for the illegal harvesting of rock lobster (crayfish) in the country’s waters.
This is part of the $22.5m restitution a US court ordered Bengis senior, junior and co-conspirator Jeffrey Noll pay in restitution to South Africa for the losses caused by their importation of poached lobster to the US in violation of US law.
The lobster were poached in South Africa between 1987 and 2001.
Eric Creizman, David Bengis’ lawyer in New York, said the proposal to pay this amount to South Africa was still pending review and endorsement by the US court.
“The proposed order represents a final settlement between the United States and David Bengis of the restitution component and, therefore, the entire US criminal proceeding, as to David Bengis,” Creizman said.
The restitution payment to South Africa was part of his obligation in the US criminal case, and not an agreement between him and South Africa, Creizman said.
This is the latest step in a succession of court cases, in South Africa and in the US, that spanned more than a decade and stemmed from a single tip-off to the former Scorpions in 2001 that there was a container in Cape Town harbour, bound for New York, that held illegally caught lobster.
In the same year, US officials seized another container of illegally caught fish packed by Arnold Bengis’ now-defunct Hout Bay Fishing.
He pleaded guilty in South Africa in 2002 to 28 charges under the Marine Living Resources Act. David Bengis was also jailed for a year.
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