7 May 2014

Zespri spends $3m on lawyers

3:02 pm on 7 May 2014

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri has spent about $3 million on legal fees to date as the Serious Fraud Office investigates its business dealings.

Last year, Zespri was convicted and fined for fraud in China and people associated with the company were imprisoned. Zespri was also fined for illegal behaviour in another key export market in 2012.

The Serious Fraud Office is now investigating the single-desk exporter.



Zespri chief executive Lain Jager said it was focused on the current season and the fraud investigation is going on in the background, but he said there was a cost to the company.

"Of course there's an investment associated with the background legal work, but you know in the context of the size of our business, we're talking about an investment of about three million dollars, so it's expensive, but bear in mind this is a 1.2 billion dollar business."

Lain Jager has also denied that the recent resignation of Zespri's chief financial officer Merv Dallas is related to the fraud investigation.

"Merv has been a long serving CFO for Zespri, been in the business for over 12 years. Obviously this business has just survived the PSA imapct. We have a lot of growth ahead of us."

"So it's a natural juncture in terms of his own career and also for Zespri in terms of the renewal process that we are going through ahead of the tremendous growth we have ahead of us.