Importer receives suspended prison sentence for mis-declared meat

Monday, 09 March, 2015

A Victorian importer who tried to pass off illegally imported South Korean meat as vegetables has received a suspended 16-month prison sentence.

Kevin Yi, the director of ISS, admitted to aggravated illegal importation under the Quarantine Act 1908. He intentionally mis-declared meat products as ‘vegetables’ in an effort to bypass Australia’s biosecurity system.

“Meat-based goods from South Korea, such as pig, beef and chicken, are considered to pose too high a risk to allow importation due to a range of animal disease concerns - for instance, South Korea recorded outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and avian influenza in 2010,” said Raelene Vivian, the Department of Agriculture’s first assistant secretary of compliance.

“Research by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) indicates the cost of an FMD outbreak in Australia would be more than $52 billion to our economy over the course of 10 years.

“Evidence also shows the most probable cause of FMD outbreaks across the world are through illegally imported meat or meat products being fed to pigs.

“It’s our job to help protect Australia’s agricultural industries, economy and environment from plant and animals pests and diseases such as FMD - and we want to work in partnership with industry to manage these risks.

“But when there is intentional non-compliance that puts our biosecurity status at risk, we use the full force of the law to keep Australia free from exotic pests and diseases.”

Yi’s deceit was uncovered as part of Operation Hayride, which targeted deliberate and serious breaches of the Quarantine Act 1908. The investigation saw the department inspect 225 targeted import consignments and more than 300 retail premises. An estimated 132 tonnes of prohibited goods were captured as part of the operation.

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