Midamar protests federal investigation, warns it may have to close its doors
Midamar Corp., one of the country’s largest producers of Halal products, is objecting a federal investigation into whether the company falsely labeled its meat products as processed in compliance with Islamic law. The company said in federal court documents that investigators have seized its main bank account and business records under search warrants executed last month. The company warned that without access to credit needed to maintain its operation, it might have to close its doors, reports the Associated Press.
A judge last week upheld the government’s seizure of $454,000 in bank funds and rejected the company’s request to return the money. No criminal or civil charges have been filed, and U.S. District Judge Linda Reade ruled that the government’s affidavit supporting its search warrant can remain secret so as not to ‘‘compromise an ongoing investigation.’’ The U.S. attorney’s office declined comment Monday on the investigation, which involves the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Internal Revenue Service.
Midamar said in court filings that the seizure related to claims that the company improperly branded and sold meat products as meeting Muslim dietary requirements when they did not. The company dismissed those allegations as false and stated that federal investigators are trying to regulate something that must be left to religions under the U.S. Constitution’s separation of church and state.
‘‘Whether Midamar’s meat is in fact halal is a religious question that may not be answered by the U.S. government,’’ company lawyers wrote last month.
Reade ruled that Midamar failed to show that the money seizure amounted to shutting down the business. Midamar failed to prove it could not obtain funding from other sources, such as by liquidating assets or taking out personal loans from its executives, she said. The agents’ seizure of documents and files also did not prevent the business from operating, Reade ruled, noting investigators returned seized computers within a week.
Source: Associated Press