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Koppers Arch and GM fined for Commerce Act breache

3 June 2005

Koppers Arch and GM fined for Commerce Act breaches

Koppers Arch Wood Protection and its General Manager Roy Parish were today convicted and fined $25,000 and $8,000 respectively in the Manukau District Court for breaches of the Commerce Act 1986.

Koppers Arch pleaded guilty to furnishing false or misleading information, documents or evidence to the Commission, and Parish pleaded guilty to refusing or failing to comply with a section 98 notice requiring the provision of information and documents to the Commission. The fines were close to the maximums under the Act of $30,000 for a company and $10,000 for an individual.

Commission Chair, Paula Rebstock said the convictions and the fines were significant milestones for the Commission. "The Commission's investigative powers are very important to the Commission's role. Most companies respond well, but where companies and individuals do not, the Commission will take strong enforcement action," she said.

The cases arose during the course of a Commission investigation into alleged restrictive trade practices in the wood preservatives chemicals industry when the Commission issued notices requiring the provision of certain information and documents. Koppers Arch claimed it had provided all requested information and documents, but the Commission later learned that was not the case. The Commission also discovered that certain senior officers of the company had requested the deletion of some documents from its computer system.

In sentencing Koppers Arch and Mr Parish, Judge Morris said that the facts of the case were disturbing and that the charges were very serious. She went on to say that some of the conduct could have amounted to an attempt to pervert the course of justice under the Crimes Act.

"These sentences are a very important recognition of the seriousness of the behaviour of both the company and its General Manager, and the Commission hopes they will be seen as a very significant deterrent to any attempt to mislead or frustrate our efforts to enforce the Commerce Act," Ms Rebstock said.

"The sentencing today brings to an end one part of our investigation into the timber preservatives chemicals industry.

"We have issued civil proceedings in the Auckland High Court against four companies and seven executives for alleged cartel behaviour within the industry, and those proceedings are continuing," Ms Rebstock said.


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