The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has laid charges against five parties involved in the running of the Crafar farms, it said today.

The Animal Welfare Act charges were laid in the Taupo District Court and relate to a farm which was investigated by MAF in October 2009 as part of a wider review of all Crafar-owned properties.

The charges were against five parties for "being owners/in charge of animals and not meeting their welfare needs", MAF said.

A MAF spokesperson declined to give the names of the parties involved.

The Crafar empire, once New Zealand's biggest private dairy operation, was placed in receivership in October 2009 owing more than $200 million to PGG Wrightson, Westpac and RaboBank.

MAF's acting deputy director-general Peter Thomson said the complex nature of the alleged breaches meant the investigation had taken some time to complete.

"There were also several complex relationships involved and part of the work we have undertaken has been to get to the bottom of these to assess ownership, control and responsibility for animal welfare".

The case is due in court on February 9.

- NZ HERALD ONLINE