GD Pork fined $500,000, director jailed

GD Pork fined $500,000, director jailed


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The WA pork industry can rest assured that the system works after GD Pork director Torben Soerensen and farm manager Henning Laue were found guilty and sentenced to jail for importing pig semen illegally.

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THE WA pork industry can rest assured that the system works after GD Pork director Torben Soerensen and farm manager Henning Laue were found guilty and sentenced to jail for importing pig semen illegally.

WA Pork Producers Association president Dawson Bradford said the penalties imposed would go some way towards reassuring the pork industry and the general public, that "actions with the potential to damage our strong biosecurity reputation will not go unpunished".

Mr Soerensen was sentenced to three years in prison and must serve a minimum of 18 months, while Mr Laue received a two-year sentence with an eight-month minimum.

GD Pork was fined $500,000.

Mr Bradford said, however, that he was "disappointed that the law did not go further and require the genetics to be destroyed in the same way other assets are removed from circulation if they have been obtained illegally".

"Strong biosecurity is paramount and we have an enviable reputation in Australia for a disease free herd, but the commercial advantage or potential advantage from the genetics featured prominently in (the) analysis of the seriousness of this case," Mr Bradford said.

"While testing has established there is no health risk posed by the genetics anyone gaining access to them, even though they themselves have not broken the law, will have an unfair advantage over competitors

"The attraction of the genetics is that sows can produce around 10pc more piglets than sows with legitimate Australian genetics.

"The pork industry must lobby hard to restore integrity in the system and ensure the Australian Government closes the legislative loophole that allowed this situation to develop."

Mr Soerensen and Mr Laue were charged under the Biosecurity Act and Quarantine Act in the Mandurah Magistrates Court earlier this year relating to the "deliberate illegal imports of (Danish) pig semen over a number of years", which they did in shampoo bottles.

The case had been the subject of an investigation by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources since January 2017.

The maximum penalty for an illegal importation to obtain a commercial advantage is 10 years jail and a $420,000 fine, or for a corporation the maximum penalty is $2.1 million.

Australian Pork Limited (APL) strongly supported the court's decision and said the deliberate and long-term biosecurity breach for illegally importing semen for competitive advantage was a "shocking violation of trust".

"The importation of fresh pork or genetic material from foreign countries poses unacceptable risks for the transfer of foreign diseases and the health of Australia's pig herd," APL said.

Newly-appointed APL chief executive Margo Andrae said that since authorities uncovered the alleged breach in January 2017, APL had worked closely to support investigations.

"These producers' actions openly flouted Australia's strict biosecurity laws and had the potential to damage Australia's $5.3 billion pork industry, as well as the livelihoods of more than 2500 Australian pig farmers and 36,000 supply chain workers," Ms Andrae said.

"At a time when Australia's pork industry and the Australian Government is focussed on keeping out African Swine Fever as it spreads across the globe, it's a timely reminder that it only takes one reckless producer to put the entire industry at risk.

"More critically, if foot and mouth disease was to get into the country, it would be catastrophic for Australia's broader livestock production system with an estimated economic cost of $50b over 10 years.

"The actions of this business threatened to completely undermine Australia's rigorous biosecurity measures and compromised the integrity, safety and value of Australian food production."

APL said the court's judgement sent a significant message to any person or company in Australia seeking to circumvent Australia's strict biosecurity laws.

GD Pork was also put into voluntary administration earlier this year and its 2000 head Pinjarra piggery has since been taken over by Westpork.

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