19 July 2024

Unregistered importer, distributor sentenced for supplying illegal liquor to retailers

An Auckland liquor importer and distributor have been fined $244,000 for attempting to sell thousands of bottles of illegal liquor and avoiding the rules in place to protect consumers.

Importer Golden Grand Trading Ltd and distributor Mayajaal Holdings Ltd were sentenced in the Auckland District Court following a successful prosecution by New Zealand Food Safety. Golden Grand Trading pleaded guilty to 3 charges under the Food Act 2014, including being an unregistered importer, and Mayajaal Holdings pleaded guilty to one charge under the Food Act.

Penalty for liquor store
Over 5000 bottles were found to be without codes (photo for representation)

In the reserved decision of Judge RJ Collins released now, Golden Grand Trading Ltd was fined $142,000 and Mayajaal Holdings Ltd $102,000. Both companies were ordered to share costs of $36,000 for disposal of the alcohol.

The offending included both companies possessing for sale or selling non-compliant alcohol involving some 5,534 bottles of imported liquor that had either no  lot codes or were stickered with a lot code that was not genuine. The liquor had an estimated retail value of $292,526.

New Zealand Food Safety deputy-director general, Vincent Arbuckle said lot codes are unique and laser-etched into the glass of the bottle or printed on the label. They ensure traceability in the event of a product recall and assure consumers that the product contents are genuine and have not been changed in any way.

“Label integrity matters and when businesses try to get around the rules, they are at best deceiving consumers, and at worst putting them at risk. Also, if a recall was required, the lack of a lot code would make it difficult for us to trace affected product.

“We take this type of offending seriously and will take legal action to ensure businesses do the right thing by consumers.”

“Our investigators found the importers bought thousands of bottles of liquor with lot codes removed and that it was cheaper – by nearly 7.5%,” Arbuckle said.

In 2012 also, Golden Grand Trading had received a warning about importing liquor with non-compliant labelling following an investigation. It resulted in a large amount of alcohol being destroyed. Letters were also sent to Mayajaal Holdings about requirements under the Food Act.

Today’s sentence is part of a wider Ministry for Primary Industries compliance investigation called ‘Operation Spirit’. In 2022, another Auckland liquor importing company was fined more than $150,000 for also importing thousands of bottles of liquor that had lot codes removed or tampered with.

Comments are welcome

Get Noticed –  

from NewsViews

Like NewsViews

Advertise here

Support us- we are local