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13 February 2002
MAF has confirmed that its Special Investigation Unit has visited and obtained
information from a number of properties in the North Island as part of its investigation
into allegations of illegal export of dairy products from New Zealand.
MAF Food's Director of Dairy Products, Tim Knox said considerable preparation,
including the obtaining of search warrants, was undertaken by the Special Investigation
Unit prior to the operations. Search warrants are obtained as a matter of course in
investigations such as this to protect all of the parties involved and to ensure
transparency in the information gathering process.
The allegations of illegal export of dairy products were brought to MAF's attention by
the New Zealand Dairy Board in September and have triggered an investigation by MAF's
Mr Knox said the investigation was complex and would take some time to complete.
MAF's investigation is focussed on allegations that dairy products were exported
without the required permit issued in accordance with the Dairy Board Act. Possible
offences committed against other Acts are also being investigated.
"These visits are part of a systematic information-gathering process. They should
not be read as indicating a sudden escalation of the investigation. Rather, they indicate
that MAF is working its way through a thorough investigative process and will continue to
do so until it has reached a conclusion."
"The latest search warrant obtained was in relation to a Fonterra site. On being
approached by the investigation team, Fonterra produced the documents required and
facilitated the process extensively," Mr Knox said
No further comment will be made as to the number of people interviewed or the nature of
documents obtained other than to say that the people concerned were co-operative.
For further inquiries please contact:
Rachel Dahlberg, MAF Communications
Adviser on 04 498 9806 or 021 392 431.