7 Aug 2008

Bail for accused leader of paua poachers

6:40 pm on 7 August 2008

The man accused of being the ring leader of a Wellington paua poaching network has been granted bail.

Saravuthy Mao, 49, a takeaway shop owner appeared in the Lower Hutt District Court on 16 charges laid by the Ministry of Fisheries.

He was one of 50 people arrested in raids conducted by fisheries officers and the police in May.

He is accused of buying 2.5 tonnes of paua with a retail value of more than $320,000 from an undercover fisheries officer.

Bail was earlier declined, but on Thursday, Judge Peter Butler granted electronic bail.

The accused entered not guilty pleas to all 16 charges. He will reappear in the Wellington District Court next month.