Authorities in Spain say a Spanish company ran an international operation that illegally captured vast amounts of an Antarctic fish prized in top restaurants.

The Spanish government proposes fines of as much as 11.4 million euros ($12.9 million) for the alleged poaching of Antarctic toothfish, which is marketed in North America as Chilean sea bass.

A government statement said the operation was concealed behind a labyrinthine system of foreign front companies, with fishing boats flying the flags of African and Asian countries to mask ownership.

Spain did not name the companies, but New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully told The Associated Press all are linked to Vidal Armadores SA.

The company's lawyer declined to comment Tuesday.