5 Dec 2016

Three companies to face criminal charges over sub-standard steel mesh

1:42 pm on 5 December 2016

Steel and Tube has confirmed it is one of three companies who are facing criminal charges from the Commerce Commission after an investigation into sub-standard steel mesh.

The Commerce Commission has been investigating the strength of various companies' steel mesh.

Photo: RNZ / 123RF

The three companies will face criminal charges under the Fair Trading Act in early 2017.

The Commission did not name the companies who are to be prosecuted, to provide them with an opportunity to seek name suppression.

But in a statement released this morning, Steel and Tube said it was one of the companies involved, but that its customers could be confident in the seismic mesh it provided.

"The Commission's decision in relation to Steel & Tube relates to the application of the testing methodologies, not the performance characteristics of our seismic mesh.

"Today's announcement should not slow down any building project using any of our seismic mesh whether it be planned or underway, as the company's seismic mesh is externally tested by accredited laboratories.

"We want to reassure our customers that we take standards and compliance very seriously, and despite the Commerce Commission's decision we stand by our products and have confidence in them."

While the other two companies being prosecuted have not been named, Euro Corporation - one of the top four mesh makers - said it was not one of them.

The Commission said investigations were continuing into several other companies.

Two other companies have also been issued with "lower-level investigation outcomes" after the commission completed its investigation into five companies.

Fletcher Steel has been issued with a warning and United Steel has been issued with compliance advice.

Substandard mesh and flaws in the testing regime for it, were revealed by RNZ earlier this year.

The Commission began investigating seismic steel mesh in August 2015 after a complaint was laid that some steel mesh products did not comply with New Zealand standards.

Early mesh testing results carried out as part of the investigation found that some steel mesh being sold in New Zealand did not meet the requirements, and the commission said it also developed concerns about compliance with testing procedures.

Commission chairman Dr Mark Berry said the focus had been on the claims that these companies made about the steel mesh they were selling.

"The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is the building regulator, and sets and enforces the Standards and Building Code. While the Commission is not responsible for the Standard or the Code we can take legal action where we see misleading or deceptive claims about compliance."

The Commission is aiming to the file these criminal charges early next year.

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