Australia: believe in punishment for abalone poachers

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Posted by on July 18, 2006 at 23:39:53:

Businessman faces $1.2m fine over illegal abalone

A Queensland businessman is facing a fine of more than $1 million for his involvement in illegal abalone trading.

David Wei Meng Lee is awaiting sentence in Hobart's Supreme Court.

Lee is one of 17 people to be charged under the fisheries investigation known as Operation Oakum, which began in 2001.

Earlier this month, the Queensland seafood retailer was found guilty of five charges of illegally possessing abalone between 2001 and 2002.

The court today heard the $1.2 million special penalty Lee is facing is far greater that the penalties imposed on other people charged under Operation Oakum.

Lee's lawyer said his client would be unable to pay the whole amount, but would be able to raise $150,000 within 12 months by selling his house and borrowing money from his brother.

He said such a debt would be a millstone around Lee's neck for the rest of his life.

Lee will be sentenced tomorrow.

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