Peter Scutts, the former chief executive of New Zealand Wine Co, appeared in the Auckland District Court today, facing charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office over $64,000 in alleged kick-back payments.
Scutts has been charged with 16 Crimes Act charges of dishonestly using a document and one Secret Commission Act charge of receiving secret reward for procuring contracts, the SFO said in a statement.
The white-collar crime investigator claims Scutts agreed to supply wine to an Australian-based wholesaler and received payments based on the volume of wine sold by NZ Wine Co, completing its probe within eight weeks.
"New Zealand has a very good international reputation for low levels of corruption and SFO is determined this is maintained," acting director Graham Gill said.
"Therefore it is always important to act as quickly as possible with investigations of this nature."
NZ Wine Co, whose stable included Grove Mill, Sanctuary and Frog Haven brands, merged with Foley Family Wines in September last year after shareholders agreed to California-based billionaire Bill Foley taking an 80 per cent stake in the company.
The SFO alleges NZ Wine Co's board had no knowledge of Scutt's receipt of their fees, it said.