Illegal Foetal Bovine Serum importer charged

Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

An individual pleaded guilty on 23 April 2021 to illegally importing foetal bovine serum in 2012 and producing fraudulent health certificates.

Head of Biosecurity Andrew Tongue said the individual was sentenced in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on 23 November 2021 having been convicted on all counts. The individual was sentenced to two (2) years imprisonment with immediate release.

“Blood products like bovine serum can present a serious biosecurity risk to Australia when illegally imported from non-approved countries,” Mr Tongue said.

“Bovine serum can carry several exotic disease risks which include bovine viral diarrhoea virus, rabies, bluetongue virus, and foot and mouth disease which could have a $50 billion impact over 10 years if established in Australia.

“Blood and blood products from animals (including serum) are some of the highest risk products the department assess for importation.

“The department relies on importers to provide accurate information on imported goods to appropriately manage the risk of disease.”

At the time of the offence in 2012, the individual was a Managing Director of a Queensland based company who colluded with an overseas company based in Austria, an approved country for bovine serum importation. The individual sourced foetal bovine serum from South America, a non-approved country, and then imported it through Austria into Australia.

The imported South American foetal bovine serum was then re-bottled and labelled as an Australian sourced product and sold overseas for an increased financial gain.

The individual pleaded guilty to aggravated illegal importation of foetal bovine serum contrary to section 67(3) Quarantine Act 1908, and dishonestly influencing a Commonwealth Official by producing fraudulent health certificates contrary to section 135.1(7) Commonwealth Criminal Code 1995.

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