Kyiv National Police to take up canned fish producer case

National Police procedural abuse Kyiv

Complainee: The National Police of Ukraine (National Police)
Complaint in brief: The Business Ombudsman Council received a complaint from a Latvian canned fish producer Karavela Company Astoria-fish LLC. The company has been operating since 1882 and delivers canned fish to Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Ukraine. The producer’s import share to the Ukrainian market makes up 5% of world deliveries. The company complained that law enforcers searched its office and seized personal belongings, money and 16 boxes of preserved fish. It turned out that the company’s competitors disseminated information among contractors that the producer was misleading consumers by selling herring under the name of “sardines”. Due to the possible illegal circulation of canned food, law enforcers launched criminal proceedings in the company’s case and conducted investigative actions. Although a part of the complainant’s property was returned, canned food remained confiscated, which could quickly spoil in the heat.
At the company’s request, an independent linguistic expert examination was conducted, which proved falsity of the competitor’s conclusions. According to EU Regulation No.2136/89, “preserved sardine-type products’ means products marketed and presented in the same way as preserved sardines prepared from Clupea harengus (Atlantic herring)” fish species. In particular, preserved sardine-type products may be placed within the EU under a trade name containing the word “sardines” together with the scientific name of the species and the geographical area in which those sardines were produced. Therefore, all the complainant’s products meet the requirements of the EU and Ukraine both in composition and labeling. To protect the company against unfair competition and abuse of law enforcers, the BOC launched its own investigation.
Actions taken: The investigator found the complaint substantiated and upheld the preserved fish producer’s position. In particular, after analyzing the legislation, the BOC confirmed compliance of the complainant’s products with preserved sardines name standards. The Council recommended the Prosecutor General’s Office and the National Police verify legality of searches within criminal proceedings and transfer the case file from Kharkiv National Police to Kyiv one to ensure an objective and impartial investigation.
Result achieved: Following the BOC involvement, the Prosecutor General’s Office transferred the company’s case to the Main Directorate of the National Police in Kyiv Oblast. As the Council’s recommendation had been implemented and unreasonable pressure on the Complainant ceased, the Council completed the complaint investigation.

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