Transitional facility sentenced over biosecurity breaches

Date:
Media contact: James Sygrove

An Auckland-based transitional facility and one of its staff members have been sentenced in the Manukau District Court for biosecurity breaches.

Green Freight Ltd and staff member Peter Pham were yesterday convicted and sentenced to combined fines and Court costs of $2,132.89 and $2,565.78 respectively after pleading guilty to one and two charges respectively under the Biosecurity Act 1993.

Greenfreight Ltd is an MPI approved Transitional Facility where risk goods are quarantined before being cleared by biosecurity inspectors. Transitional Facilities form an important part of New Zealand’s multi layered biosecurity system, ensuring unwanted pests and diseases do not enter the country.

In December 2012 Greenfreight were involved with the importation of a number of wooden shutters from China, which needed to be inspected by MPI prior to release. When an MPI inspector arrived at Greenfreight’s premises they found the shutters had already been released without MPI clearance.

Mr Pham also attempted to mislead the inspector stating the goods were still on the premises. It was further discovered that Greenfreight Ltd had been running their approved Transitional Facility without an approved Operator, in breach of the Biosecurity Act.

Compliance Directorate Northern Manager Greg Keys says he is happy to see the courts sending a strong message around offending such as this. “Providing false information to MPI quarantine inspectors and disregarding New Zealand’s biosecurity laws could have serious implications, such as the introduction of an unwanted organism.”

“MPI had already issued warnings to Mr Pham regarding similar incidents – he was well aware of his obligations.”

“New Zealand is a leading exporter of safe and trusted products for markets all over the world. We rely upon primary production more than any other developed country, exporting 80 percent of the food produced here each year. As such MPI takes our biosecurity system very seriously and will continue to use our resources to clamp down on non-compliant operators.”

For more information about the MPI biosecurity system see http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/biosec/sys

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