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Securities law creep into fisheries enforcement

  • October 1st, 2014

Law will always be used for purposes not expected by its supporters, but no one who rushed Sarbanes Oxley through to show how staunch they were on corporate fraud would have dreamed that they were toughening up fishing enforcement.

The US Supreme Court will shortly hear an appeal against a conviction under Sarbanes Oxley’s offence for shredding papers that would be evidence in an investigation, of an offender who threw undersize fish overboard.

John Yates was apparently catching undersized red grouper in the Gulf of Mexico. He was instructed to return to port where the grouper were to be seized, but when he arrived, the fisheries officer counted fewer undersized fish and suspected Yates threw some overboard. A jury convicted Yates under Sarbanes-Oxley for destroying “tangible objects” with the intent to obstruct an investigation.

Seems sensible to me to have an offence that covers such conduct. But is this use of the law too remote from its intended white collar crime purpose?


  • Frank Joe
  • October 2nd, 2014
  • 10:21 pm

Sir, The Volokh Conspiracy, a great US legal commentary site has canvassed the issues at

Worth a look to see the extent of US prosecutorial zeal.

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