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MAF Gathering Evidence In Dairy Investigation

MAF Continues To Gather Evidence In Dairy Investigation

MAF has confirmed that its Special Investigation Unit has visited and obtained information from a number of properties in the North Island as part of its investigation into allegations of illegal export of dairy products from New Zealand.

MAF Food's Director of Dairy Products, Tim Knox said considerable preparation, including the obtaining of search warrants, was undertaken by the Special Investigation Unit prior to the operations. Search warrants are obtained as a matter of course in investigations such as this to protect all of the parties involved and to ensure transparency in the information gathering process.

The allegations of illegal export of dairy products were brought to MAF's attention by the New Zealand Dairy Board in September and have triggered an investigation by MAF's enforcement arm.

Mr Knox said the investigation was complex and would take some time to complete.

MAF's investigation is focussed on allegations that dairy products were exported without the required permit issued in accordance with the Dairy Board Act. Possible offences committed against other Acts are also being investigated.

"These visits are part of a systematic information-gathering process. They should not be read as indicating a sudden escalation of the investigation. Rather, they indicate that MAF is working its way through a thorough investigative process and will continue to do so until it has reached a conclusion."

"The latest search warrant obtained was in relation to a Fonterra site. On being approached by the investigation team, Fonterra produced the documents required and facilitated the process extensively," Mr Knox said

No further comment will be made as to the number of people interviewed or the nature of documents obtained other than to say that the people concerned were co-operative.

ENDS

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