Farmer jailed over plot to illegally export hay seeds
A South East grain producer who manufactured his own fake labels for bags of seeds that he sold to Saudi Arabia has been jailed for more than four years in a nation-leading prosecution.
Tim Cadzow, 52, had no other criminal convictions, has been an important member of the Keith community and the court accepted he had rehabilitated when he was taken from the District Court in custody on Wednesday.
From July 2012 to January 2016 Cadzow sold lucerne seed grown by farmers in around Keith in the South East using fake labels.
Cadzow exported around 600 tonnes of seeds with an approximate value of $5.7 million. Despite the large sums of money, Cadzow only pocketed between as much as $100,000 for the three-and-a-half years of work.
Seeds and grain are exported from Australia under the control and scrutiny of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The OECD issues labels for seeds for export that certifies the strain and variety of the produce and also enforces strict quality controls between the 61-member countries.
District Court Judge Michael Durrant said Cadzow, who had previously been the managing director of Keith Seeds before it went into liquidation in 2010, had forged the labels in 14 consignments to look similar to OECD certificates.
On one occasion he actively tried to forge an OECD label using a commercial printer and blanks he had acquired while trying to get certified to sell the grain. That consignment was photographed in a marketplace in Saudi Arabia leading federal trade investigators to Cadzow's doorstep.
The producer admitted his misconduct and helped investigators identify the previous shipments.
He was charged with 15 counts of exporting prescribed goods using false trade descriptions and one count of attempting to export the goods.
He was also charged with using an unregistered business to sort and bag the seeds before they were shipped overseas.
Judge Durrant said Cadzow had discovered a niche market, put his own interests above those of his clients and in doing so had endangered the national interest.
"It was sophisticated offending on a significant scale, it was maintained for more than three and a half years and you did not stop until you were caught," he said.
"You risked the integrity of the market for lucerne seed and the reputation of Keith were a large amount of the seed is grown
"You risked the nation's reputation and the efforts of the government and all those involved in exporting to ensure reliable content.
"The integrity and reputation of Australia as an exporting nation could have been damaged by your conduct.
"The maintenance and access of Australian food to the international market is in the national interest and others must be deterred."
Judge Durrant said he was not able to call on any other similiar cases in South Australia or other states to guide him when contemplating how to structure Cadzow's prison sentence.
Cadzow was sentenced to four years and three months in prison with a non-parole period of 22 months.
Originally published as SA man jailed over three-year plot to illegally export seeds