Wine deception allegations covered by suppression

Court suppressions have been clamped on allegations of deceptions in wine industry export applications.

Neither the name of an export director charged, nor the names of the six wine producers listed in the charges can be published.

The suppressions granted by Judge Tony Couch will be considered again at a hearing on August 9.

The prosecution came before the Christchurch District Court today, with 18 charges laid by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The charges allege that the director of the wine export company either procured or incited false wine export applications. In each charge, a few cases of specific wine brands are referred to.

The wine brands are from vineyards in many parts of New Zealand, but most are from the South Island.

The prosecutor for the Ministry, Grant Fletcher, said the charges alleged deceptions about wine exports through electronic applications made to meet overseas markets’ import requirements.

It involved exporting sample cases to a European market, which would enable a large volume of the product to go into the market.

“This is the first prosecution of an allegation of this type,” said Mr Fletcher. “There is a great deal of public interest in it. It will have consequences for the wine industry at large.”

Judge Couch said it was “not quite a test case, but it is a case that is going to be thoroughly examined”.

The company director does not live in Christchurch and was not at the hearing, but legal representation had been arranged.

Judge Couch said he would grant the interim suppressions being sought but the application would have to be fully argued at the next appearance which is scheduled for Christchurch on August 9.

Mr Fletcher said the Ministry did not oppose the suppression but its position might change as the case developed.

The name of the director is suppressed as well as the business’ name and the wine producers referred to in the charges.

“A proper application, with evidence, will be required for the orders to be continued,” said Judge Couch.



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