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Dongwon On IUU: We Are Victims Of A Scam South Korea, March 18, 13

Korea’s Tuna giant Dongwon, said in an email to in relation to the accusations of the Korean company ‘s seiner ‘F/V Premier’ fishing illegally in the Atlantic waters of Liberia, that the company has become the victim of a tuna fishing licensing scam in the African country. The company insists that the allegations of Dongwon being involved with IUU fishing are totally false, and that the company has always acted in good faith.

Dongwon Industries explains it applied for its fishing license lawfully via the Liberian government through an agency in Liberia and paid the license fee accordingly. When questions about the validity of that license were raised, Dongwon Industries sought to confirm the license’ validity with Liberia’s BNF (Buro of National Fisheries).

Last Friday, BNF issued a statement which contained the following text: “Dongwon cannot demonstrate any legal agreement they had with a local agent to represent them (requirement for licensing) payment into Government accounts for the license fee (a requirement), nor can they provide any communication or document giving the vessel legal right to fish, that has not been identified as a forgery by Liberia’s officials”.

Dongwon Industries says that when it learned the confirmation letter and licenses were considered invalid and counterfeit by the Liberian government it could only conclude that it had become the victim of a scam of forged documents and communication. Dongwon says it immediately urged the Liberian government to launch an investigation in which Dongwon would actively participate. The company also sent representatives from Korea to Liberia to help resolve the issue, and continues to work with the Liberian government directly to investigate how this scam could have taken place, and who are involved.

All Dongwon’s communications on tuna fishing licenses in Liberia have been conducted with its licensing agent Mr. Hixenbaugh K. Darbeh of Inter Biurgo in Liberia. He was the one who has consulted with the BNF on behalf of the tuna fishing operator. Dongwon also transmitted the payments for the licenses to this agent.

According to Dongwon, its representative is now seeking a solution with the Liberian authorities. It insists that using forgeries is not in compliance with its corporate values, and that it highly values its relations with the government of Liberia and wants to help resolve the issue.

Dongown points out it is not the only tuna fishing company which has become the victim of falsified fishing licenses in Liberia over the last 2 years. Other major tuna purse seiner operators from Europe also encountered these problems last year; they in the meantime have reached settlements with the Liberian government.