Woman arrested in Chinese anti-smuggling operation owned company with SalMar

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A woman arrested last week in China for allegedly being involved in the smuggling of Norwegian salmon over the border from Vietnam had recently formed a company with SalMar, writes newspaper, Adressa.

“This company is now established in Singapore with SalMar as its main owner, but it’s still a shell company without any business,” SalMar chief financial officer, Trond Tuvstein, told Addressa.

Chinese authorities last week uncovered the smuggling of Norwegian salmon worth 766 million kroner (EUR 80 million). The Norwegian Foreign Ministry later confirmed that a Norwegian citizen had been arrested.

No SalMar role
Tuvstein said that whatever happens next between the two companies will be determined by fallout from the China-smuggling case. He said the arrested woman had no formal role in the company, but that she, through her company, had been a business contact and customer for over a decade.

The SalMar CFO said he has had no knowledge of what other destinations this customer might have sold salmon to. He wouldn’t comment on how much salmon had been sold.

“The customer has bought fish from us and then sold it onwards to other markets in Asia,” Tuvstein wrote in an email to the newspaper.

SalMar CEO, Trond Williksen, admitted to Norwegian, Fiskeribladet, that the woman and her company were cooperating in the investigation.

Marine Harvest caution
Chinese authorities have also revealed salmon packages bearing the Marine Harvest label, but the company rejects any involvement in the smuggling. According to a company spokesperson, the company hasn’t moved salmon through Vietnam to China since discovering illegal export activity in 2012.

“We were afraid of ending up in that type of situation,” said Marine Harvest head of communications, Ola Helge Hjetland.

“It’s important for us to have some control of where the fish is sold. We have good dialogue and good information about our customers to ensure for ourselves that we don’t become part of an illegal operation,” he told Adressa.

Read China smuggling case knock-on is lower price on larger fish