The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has prosecuted an Auckland wine exporter for deliberately procuring deceptive and false wine export documentation related to wine destined for Ireland.
Joyce Austin, the sole director of a wine exporting company New Zealand Boutique Wines, was sentenced in the Auckland District Court after earlier pleading guilty to one representative charge under the Wine Act.
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She was convicted and fined $6000 for the offending, which occurred between March 2013 and May 2014.
MPI said she was contracted as the wine exporter for several small wineries implicated in her offending.
She procured from the wineries false wine export applications in respect of 45.5 cases of wine to be used as samples at sales events in Ireland.
Ms Austin had claimed that the certification process was complex and took too long and this is why she advised her clients to record the wine samples as a wine that had already been certified for export.
MPI refuted this and said it is confident that the certification process is fit for purpose and rejected the claims.
MPI Manager of Compliance Investigations Gary Orr said she knew she was breaking the law, and while the volume of wine was not large, the offending is significant.
"Every wine exporter has a duty to ensure their operations do not contravene any relevant requirements of the Wine Act," he said.
"They must only export wine which meets correct standards and specifications and overseas market access requirements, and this includes only exporting wine which complies with the export eligibility requirements," said Mr Orr.
MPI said the small volume of wine involved posed no health or food safety risk, and the charges do not concern the integrity of the wine.
"The wineries involved received formal warnings from MPI as it was determined that they had, until that point, been compliant and were acting on professional advice from Joyce Austin, who misled them over the legality of what she was asking them to do."
"The fifth winery was not warned, but for legal reasons MPI is unable to comment further at this time."
MPI recently prosecuted leading New Zealand wine company Yealands Estate Wines for what it decribed as deliberate, deceptive and sustained breaches of the Wine Act.