By PHILIPPA STEVENSON agriculture editor
The long-running investigation into the Powdergate illegal dairy exporting scandal has a new home at the new Food Safety Authority.
The authority, formed on July 1, is responsible for all laws regulating food whether sold here or exported. Its duties were previously shared by the Ministries of Health, and Agriculture and Forestry.
Yesterday, the authority's director of dairy and plant products, Tim Knox, who held the same position at MAF, said the new agency had inherited the 10-month-old Powdergate investigation from MAF.
The shift did not change anything in the management of the ongoing investigation, he said.
Several staff from the MAF enforcement unit's investigation group had transferred to the authority and "we just need to rejig a little bit how they work together and to keep the process going", Knox said.
The groundwork of collecting information was well advanced and the investigation had moved to analysing data.
"We've made some good progress and we're starting to see a pattern," Knox said.
Powdergate came to light last September when the Dairy Board raised concerns with MAF about possible breaches of export regulations by dairy manufacturer Kiwi Dairies.
It quickly widened into a major scandal involving about $50 million worth of product found in Italy and Mexico, and Kiwi subsidiaries here and in Australia implicated the other major dairy manufacturer, NZ Dairy Group. This tarnished the image of the new company the manufacturers formed, Fonterra, before it was off the ground.
MAF sought help from Australian authorities while Fonterra launched its own investigation, which it claimed at the end of last year had brought closure to the matter.
During Fonterra's inquiry, a Dairy Group employee was disciplined, and senior Kiwi executives Paul Marra and Malcolm McCowan were suspended. After mediation they resigned "on a severance basis".
A director of Kiwi subsidiary Cottee Dairy Products, Ross Cottee, was sacked, and former Cottee chief executive Terry Walter went from the job.
In February, MAF used search warrants to seize documents from several Fonterra sites. Sources say the raids netted thousands of emails but Knox would say only that they resulted in "a lot of information".By Philippa Stevenson