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$22 Million Fine for Fishing Company Officers for Illegal Harvesting and Smuggling of Rock Lobsters

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that the United States obtained a restitution order against ARNOLD MAURICE BENGIS, DAVID BENGIS, and JEFFREY NOLL in the amount of nearly $29.5 million and in favor of the Republic of South Africa.  This is the largest known restitution order in a Lacey Act case in history.  The restitution order follows the Government’s successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit of the District Court’s 2007 orders that restitution was not available for crimes prosecuted under the Lacey Act. 

The Lacey Act is a federal statute that makes it a crime to, among other things, import into the U.S. any fish, wildlife, or plants taken in violation of state or foreign law.  After a credit of more than $7 million already paid to South Africa as part of a separate criminal case there, the total restitution to be paid by the defendants is approximately $22.5 million.  The restitution was ordered by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.  In addition, Judge Kaplan also restrained the defendants from depleting accounts in the Channel Islands to amounts below the approximately $22.5 million restitution to be paid.

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