In a recent court ruling this week, a court mentioned that prosecutors made the wrong move in applying the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate governance law to a fisherman suspected of eliminating evidence which involved taking in undersized fish.
When Congress deemed it criminal to destroying or covering up any object with any intention of obstructing a probe, it didn’t mean the law would be applicable to creatures of the sea, according to the court.
The Sarbanes-Oxley law, which was passed due to accounting issues on public-traded firms, prevents the destruction of business documents and records as evidence. It has no application on the fisherman’s claimed destruction of his catch.
The case involved John Yates, a Florida-based fisherman who was caught red-handed with a 72 grouper on what seemed to be smaller than the minimum standard size limit. Ignoring a wildlife officer, Yates instructed his fishing crew to toss the grouper and replace it with a bigger one. Yates faced 20 years of prison time for the destruction and concealing undersized fish that obstructed a federal probe.