French man who kept rare birds and laundered €80,000 sentenced to 8 months in prison

French man who kept rare birds and laundered €80,000 sentenced to 8 months in prison

A 49-year-old man has been sentenced to an eight-month suspended prison term by a French court for trafficking in protected birds and laundering around €80,000.

During a 2020 search, the state services had discovered some 50 birds in a 120-metre-square shed in Sare, on France's border with Spain. The birds were mostly canaries, but police also found 15 protected species including Japanese nightingales, bullfinches and goldfinches.

According to two environmental protection associations who acted as plaintiffs in the man's case, the birds were potentially worth substantial sums – in particular the goldfinch, a small songbird weighing around 15 grams that is widely poached throughout the world.

The League for the Protection of Birds reports its black market value as ranging from €150 to as much as €1,000.

The man, who "damaged the environment", according to the court, is also banned from running a company for five years and will have to pay a fine of €1,450.

He denied keeping the birds for sale, claiming instead he had kept them purely "out of passion".

As part of the case, two environmental associations were awarded nearly €4,500 euros in compensation for ecological and environmental damage.

The court also found that €80,000 euros in cash had been laundered through transfers and cheques made out by the man's mother and sister. His mother was sentenced to three years in prison, and his sister given a suspended fine of €5,000.