Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Celluslim pill promoters to pay $256,000 in fines

9 November 2005

Celluslim pill promoters to pay $256,000 in fines and refunds

Misleading representations about "Celluslim", a purported weight loss and cellulite reduction product, have landed Dennis O'Neill and Martini Limited with $61,000 of fines and costs and a $195,000 refund bill.

"This is a great result for the Commission in its strategy to ensure consumers are not misled, particularly in the area of health and nutrition," said Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock

"Anyone planning to deceive their customers should beware," Ms Rebstock said. "Misleading the public can be expensive. Not only will the Court impose heavy fines, it can also order companies to compensate those they have misled."

"The Commission is pleased with the refunds it has secured for consumers, and will continue to seek compensation for those who have been blatantly misled into buying worthless products."

Mr O'Neill was fined $25,000 and Martini (formerly trading as Marketing Direct Limited) was fined $34,000 in the Auckland District Court for breaching the Fair Trading Act by making false and misleading representations as to:
* the composition of Celluslim: * the performance of the product; * the claim that it was tested and approved by experts from Europe and America; * the origin of the product; and * the ability of dissatisfied customers to receive a full refund.

The judge has also instructed that an independent firm be instructed to disperse the refund of over $175,000 to those consumers who purchased the product.

Mr O'Neill began marketing Celluslim in 2002, distributing over 39,000 brochures throughout New Zealand. The brochures claimed Celluslim could "... melt away fat and cellulite in just three weeks: without diet or exercise." They also claimed that Celluslim had been scientifically developed and tested by "Doctor Malissi" at the "Saint Alto Research Centre, Switzerland", neither of which existed.

In July 2003 Martini and Mr O'Neill were warned by the Government's Medsafe agency that they were breaching the Medicines Act, and were told to stop promoting and distributing Celluslim. Despite this warning, there was a further mail-out of 59,000 brochures and Martini and Mr O'Neil continued to distribute Celluslim. At one stage, they ran out of Celluslim tablets, relabelling a honey, garlic and apple cider vinegar tablet as Celluslim so they could continue to fill orders.

In his sentencing, Judge Wilson QC said: "...the only evidence is that Celluslim could not reduce cellulite fat and weight and moreover made some customers feel unwell... any person who purchased Celluslim wasted their money."

Martini and Mr O'Neill have said that they will be appealing the penalties and refund orders. Judge Wilson has ordered a stay of enforcement of the refund orders pending appeal; the Commission will oppose any appeal.


Martini Limited and Mr O'Neill first became aware of Celluslim in April 2002 when they received a brochure from Singapore on the product. Mr O'Neill decided to market the product himself through Martini and employed a local company to manufacture the tablets, basing them upon the list of ingredients found in the original Singaporean brochure.

He also employed a local company to produce new brochures, based upon the original Singaporean literature. At the time of the offending, the maximum fines available under the Fair Trading Act were $30,000 per offence for an individual and $100,000 for a company.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


I Sing The Highway Electric: Charge Net NZ To Connect New Zealand

BMW is turning Middle Earth electric after today announcing a substantial contribution to the charging network Charge Net NZ. This landmark partnership will enable Kiwis to drive their electric vehicles (EVs) right across New Zealand through the installation of a fast charging highway stretching from Kaitaia to Invercargill. More>>


Watch This Space: Mahia Rocket Lab Launch Site Officially Opened

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce today opened New Zealand’s first orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast. More>>


Marketing Rocks!
Ig Nobel Award Winners Assess The Personality Of Rocks

A Massey University marketing lecturer has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics for a research project that asked university students to describe the “brand personalities” of three rocks. More>>


Nurofen Promotion: Reckitt Benckiser To Plead Guilty To Misleading Ads

Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to charges of misleading consumers over the way it promoted a range of Nurofen products, the Commerce Commission says. More>>


Half A Billion Accounts, Including Xtra: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>


Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news