Quarantine manager convicted for misleading MPI

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The manager of a registered quarantine facility was convicted of giving false information to a Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Quarantine Officer, in Manukau District Court this week (11 February 2015).

Chin-Pin (Alan) Lee, 32, of Epsom, pleaded guilty to a charge, laid under the Biosecurity Act, of knowingly giving false or misleading information to an official. He was fined $3000.

MPI Northern Cargo Manager Stu Rawnsley says facility operators carry great responsibility for the success of the biosecurity system.

“MPI will continue to prosecute those who abuse the privilege of operating such facilities."

Mr Lee runs a quarantine facility in Otahuhu that is registered with MPI and routinely audited.

The offending occurred when Mr Lee supplied an altered photograph to MPI after his facility, HEC (NZ) Company Ltd, had failed an audit and he was required to make changes to be compliant.

During the audit, an MPI officer found a container near a small area of gravel. Imported containers with risk goods must be stored on a concrete pad before they are unloaded to ensure that any insects that may be encountered during unloading, have no place to hide.

Unable to fix the problem, Mr Lee altered a photograph intending to show that the area was now in concrete and sent it to MPI. A Quarantine Officer quickly noticed the deception.

Mr Lee later apologised and said that it was a stupid idea and unprofessional.

Quarantine facilities are part of New Zealand’s biosecurity system and are used to clear imported goods to protect against the introduction of unwanted pests and diseases that could seriously affect farming, horticulture and the environment.

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