19 Jan 2013

Not guilty plea by Zespri subsidiary in smuggling case

6:50 am on 19 January 2013

A subsidiary of Zespri in China has pleaded not guilty to smuggling at a court in Shanghai.

Last year, a former independent importer for Zespri was sentenced to 13 years in prison for smuggling after admitting he underpaid about $7.5 million of customs duties for New Zealand kiwifruit.

The Zespri Management Consulting Corporation, a subsidary of the New Zealand kiwifruit company, has also been charged with smuggling. Prosecutors say it was involved in the underpayments.

However, the company said the legal obligations from meeting Customs requirements lie with the importer and it acted in good faith.

Zespri said there is no evidence it or its growers benefited from the under-declaration.