Alleged wine fraud company in liquidation

A North Canterbury wine company facing charges alleging fraud concerning wine production, has been placed in liquidation this month.

The Waipara-based company, Southern Boundary Wines Ltd, and two directors and an employee, have filed not guilty pleas to all charges and elected trial by jury in a case that will be considered for transfer to the High Court.

Judge Stephen O’Driscoll was told in the Christchurch District Court that the company had been placed into voluntary liquidation on February 2 and the counsel for the liquidator had said the liquidation placed a stay of proceedings on the Ministry of Primary Industries’ prosecution of the company.

Judge O’Driscoll today adjourned the case for six weeks to May 9, to give the MPI a chance to decide whether to apply to challenge the stay and continue with the prosecution.

The charges are against the company and its director Scott Charles Berry, 36 of Waipara, employee Rebecca Junell Cope, 42, of Waipara, and director Andrew Ronald Moore, 43, of Amberley.

The charges against the company include making a false statement about the vintage and area of origin of wine in an application for an export eligibility statement, exporting wine that did not comply with export eligibility requirements, failing to deal with grapes, grape juice, and wine from a customer as required, and selling wine that had not been made in accordance with Wine Act requirements.

Broadly similar charges apply to the three people being prosecuted.

The directors, employee, and the company also face charges of destroying or concealing winemaking records, or attempting to do so. The charges say the records are required to be kept under the Wine Act.

Judge O’Driscoll said all the charges were adjourned to May 9, to a Crown case review hearing, including charges which were category 1, where the penalty was a fine, for which no election of jury trial was available.

A decision will be made later about whether all the cases should stay together as one trial.

He also asked the counsel involved to file written submissions for consideration at the next hearing about whether the case should remain in the District Court, or be transferred to the High Court.

Interim suppression continues for the wine labels involved.

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