Italian chef and restaurateur Mario Balzan was arrested in the United States and charged with three counts of violating export control laws for importing a seafood product that contained lead from a Thai seafood factory.
According to the US Department of Justice, Balzan allegedly bought more than 1,000 tons of seafood from a company owned by the Thai company’s Thai owner, but he exported the seafood and failed to report it.
Balzan’s Thai seafood company, Mina Seafood, is also the owner of the popular Turkish restaurant in Santa Monica.
According the US Justice Department, Balzeran, a former chef of the Italian restaurant The Sommelier, was arrested on March 11 and charged by a federal grand jury with violating export controls laws.
Balzerans seafood company said in a statement that it had no knowledge of the violation and that Balzan is currently under investigation by US Customs and Border Protection.