Apple packhouse fined $40,000 for fraudulent export documents

Media contact: Jim Flack

A Hawkes Bay packhouse was fined$40,000 in Hastings District Court today, after being convicted under the Crimes Act of providing fraudulent documentation which resulted in non-complying apples being exported to Taiwan.  

Matipou Orchard Ltd had earlier pleaded guilty to 10 charges, laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), of using a document with the intent to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

MPI investigations found that in 2009 and 2011 Matipou Orchard Ltd had deliberately provided MPI with fraudulent export documentation.

The company had provided false statements that the Taiwan bound apples were sourced from orchards that were part of an official assurance programme.

A pecuniary advantage of approximately $21,000 was gained from packing non-compliant apples.

Matipou Orchard Ltd is no longer approved by MPI to hold a packhouse registration for exporting apples to Taiwan.

MPI Central Investigations Manager Steve Ham says a robust assurance and certification scheme is vital to ensuring that New Zealand’s international obligations are met and our plant exports continue to be accepted in premium markets.

“MPI phytosanitary certification provides an official New Zealand Government assurance that export products have been produced to meet requirements specified by the importing country’s government, to ensure plant pests and diseases are not introduced.”

“MPI takes this sort of offending very seriously. New Zealand apple exports amount to $500 million per year in export earnings. Annual apple exports to Taiwan amounts to more than $30 million.

Falsifying requests for export certification potentially undermines other apple growers, the wider horticultural industry and New Zealand’s reputation as an exporter. Any attempt to circumvent New Zealand plant export programmes is very concerning to MPI. ”

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