Major Fine for Liquor Importers

Fine for Auckland Alcohol importing company

An Auckland liquor importing company and two of its managers have been fined $152,000 today, for attempting to sell thousands of illegal bottles of liquor.

Ace Health Limited and managers Bosheng Wang (37) and Zhimin You (38) were sentenced on seven different charges under the Food and Safety Act 2014 at the Auckland District Court. The company was fined $108,000 and the managers were each fined $21,600 for supplying bottles of spirits that had lot codes removed or tampered with.

Lot codes are unique and are laser-etched into the glass of a bottle or printed on the label of the beverage. They ensure traceability in the event of product recalls and ensure genuine product contents. When a business violates the integrity of a product label, it deceives consumers and puts them at risk.

New Zealand Food Safety investigated Ace Health Limited in 2019 and found hundreds of illegal beverage bottles. The company also had five containers of product intercepted at customs with many liquor bottles having no codes. Prior to this, the company had received a compliance warning in 2017.

"The importer stood to gain a significant profit by purchasing large quantities of illegal liquor at a discounted price. In total 3,916 non-compliant bottles with a wholesale value of about $278,000 were seized. The estimated retail value of these bottles was about $330,000." Said Vincent Arbuckle, New Zealand Food Safety Deputy Director-General.

"In this case, our testing showed that the product was genuine, but that doesn’t excuse the offending. Consumers deserve to know that the product they are consuming is safe and suitable and the lot numbers help provide that assurance. Also, if a recall was required, the lack of lot code would make it difficult for us to trace affected product"

"We take this type of offending seriously and will take action to ensure businesses do the right thing by consumers."