The Ministry for Primary Industries has reported it successfully brought a raft of charges against a Canterbury wine company, resulting in a $1.7 million dollar fine and additional sentences for its directors and an employee.
Southern Boundary Wines received the fine for charges related to fraudulently blending and mislabelling wine and falsifying records in order to cover up the actions.
Director Scott Charles Berry was sentenced to 10 months and two weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $25,000.
Director Andrew Ronald Moore received a similar sentence of two months and two weeks’ home detention and ordered to pay reparation of $20,000.
Employee winemaker Rebecca Junell Cope was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work.
The sentences were heard in the Christchurch High Court on 13 March, capitulating an MPI investigation which begun in 2014.
The court noted that the scale of the fine reflects the culpability of the offending and provides a deterrent effect.
MPI says the investigation begun in earnest, when inspectors visited Southern Boundary Wines’ facility and found a rubbish sack of winemaking records. Piecing these together built a picture of the offending, MPI says.
"New Zealand's wine industry has a well-earned reputation with importing countries because of the quality and integrity of its products,” MPI’s director of compliance Gary Orr says.
"We need to keep it this way, and this prosecution sends a strong message that MPI will pursue this kind of offending, and where we have evidence, place it before the courts.”
Mr Orr also acknowledged a former employee of Southern Boundary Wines’ courage, as they initially brought the matter to MPI’s attention.