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US court opens way for SA to recoup $100m from former Hout Bay fishing magnate

Arnold Bengis served just under four years in a US prison for poaching and illegal importation of seafood into the US.

 Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Senzeni Zokwana . Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - A New York court has opened the way for the South African government to recoup as much as $100 million from a former Hout Bay fishing magnate.

Arnold Bengis served just under four years in a US prison for poaching and illegal importation of seafood into the US.

Now the South Africa's government is going after him again, asking US authorities to attach his assets.

A New York court last week agreed to resentence him.

The boss of the now defunct Hout Bay Fishing Industries, Bengis, was prominent in the Cape Town fishing industry for 40 years when he was sentenced in 2004 to 46 months in a US jail.

His son, David, served a year after they pleaded guilty to importing West Coast rock lobster and Patagonian toothfish into the US.

Bengis was ordered to pay the South African government more than $22 million in restitution.

Now believed to be living in Israel, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is still pursuing the 81-year-old Bengis, this time for $100 million it says is the true value of his crimes.

The department told the court Bengis has done massive and lasting damage to the country's marine ecosystem.

It will spare no effort in going after those involved in illegal and unregulated fishing.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)

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