The Director of ISS Import Trading Pty Ltd received a suspended 16 month prison sentence at the Victorian County Court in Melbourne last week for knowingly importing prohibited meat from South East Asia.
Director of ISS, Kevin Yi, admitted to aggravated illegal importation under the Quarantine Act 1908, intentionally mis-declaring meat products as ‘vegetables’ in an effort to bypass Australia’s biosecurity system bringing in high risk animal products from South Korea.
The Department of Agriculture's First Assistant Secretary of Compliance, Raelene Vivian, said meat and animal products from South Korea were not allowed to be imported into Australia.
“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,” Ms Vivian said.
“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.”
This prosecution was a result of Operation Hayride, an investigation which targeted deliberate and serious breaches of the Quarantine Act 1908.
It was initiated after evidence of deliberate importation and distribution of prohibited foods was discovered in 2010.
During Operation Hayride, the department inspected 225 targeted import consignments and more than 300 retail premises. The operation yielded an estimated 132 tonnes of prohibited goods including meat and dairy product.