Eyes on the Pirates, Part 2


Manage episode 218658731 series 1951941
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Pirates in folk stories and popular movies conjure up strong imagery: eye patches, Jolly Rogers, parrots, swashbuckling, scruffy voices that say “Aye, Matey.” But what do the lives of successful pirates look like today? And what's being done to stop them from plundering and smuggling our ocean's precious resources? World Wildlife Fund's project Detect IT: Fish takes aim at these pirates and other illegal actors with this cutting-edge project that reduces a time-consuming tracking process from days to minutes. Ginette Methot-Seare: “After nearly 15 years of lucrative, illegal activity, he was caught and convicted. The judge in this key case stated that his business activities were an ‘astonishing display of the arrogance of wealth and power.’ He destroyed evidence, and while under investigation, even hired a private I to follow an agent around. After serving prison time, the main perpetrator and his accomplices were ordered to pay 22.5 million dollars in restitution to South Africa for the damage they had done.” Curtis Seare: “Who was this man? Arnold Bengis, a modern-day pirate.” Ginette: “I’m Ginette.” Curtis: “And I’m Curtis.” Ginette: “And you are listening to Data Crunch.” Curtis: “A podcast about how data and prediction shape our world.” Ginette: “A Vault Analytics production.” Ginette: “Believe it or not, these episodes take hours and hours of hard work to produce, and the success of this show depends in large part on the listener reviews and ratings we get. If you like what we do, the best way to support us is to go to iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite medium for getting the episodes, and leave us a review. “If you’re willing to do that, a big thank you in advance, and a big thank you to those who already done it.” “At the end of our last episode, we promised you the story of one of the biggest pirate busts in history, and we will deliver, but before we go on, if you’re new to Data Crunch, you may want to start with the last episode, which will give you more background and context. “By some accounts, this is what happened: Arnold Bengis became incredibly wealthy after growing a business in South Africa. He had a house in Bridgehampton, New York, worth several million dollars, an apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan on the 41 floor, and a house in Four Beaches, an exclusive neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa. “His 6,000-plus square foot Bridgehampton house, a large Spanish-tile stucco villa, overlooked the beautiful Mecox Bay to one side and the Atlantic ocean on the other. His six bedroom, seven full bathroom single-family home had what you’d expect to find at a palatial place: a well-manicured golf green; a luxurious pool; large, well-decorated rooms with chandeliers, and expensive furniture. When the house last sold, it went for 10 and a half million dollars. One of the agents of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, who investigated Bengis’s case even said he was in partial awe of the lifestyle Bengis was living, which was supported by illegal fishing business. “Bengis held his money, both personal and business, in a highly complex network of trusts and asset havens. The money was scattered abroad in many different places, like Switzerland, Gibraltar, Jersey Islands, and Britain. While authorities didn’t know everything about his money, what they did know was that he had vast assets. For example, in just one year, he deposited $13 million into one of his accounts. His lawyer said that one of his several trusts was worth more than $25 million, according to the book Hooked: Pirates, Poaching, and the Perfect Fish. “I know what you’re probably thinking: ‘How did this man make so much money from illegal fishing?’ We told you in our last episode that IUU fishing rakes in between $10 billion and $23.5 billion dollars a year, and that’s a conservative estimate. The larger picture is this: When you consider that the entire world’s trade...

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