A former director and owner of a concrete company has been fined $151,875 for misrepresenting his company's cladding panels.
Director Darryl Campbell pleaded guilty to nine charges brought by the Commerce Commission under the Fair Trading Act for misrepresentations to staff and customers between 2007 and 2010.
During that period, the now-defunct Christchurch Lightweight Concrete company claimed it was supplying aerated cladding panels as the Australian-made "Hebel" brand when it was in fact from a Chinese manufacturer. The company supplied the panels for at least 83 properties.
In the Auckland District Court today, Judge Brooke Gibson said Campbell's actions were deliberate. "He clearly knew the panels were not Hebel panels and he also knew, I am satisfied, of their reputation in the market."
Commissioner Anna Rawlings welcomed the sentence.
"Consumers care about brand, quality, and reputation and they are often willing to pay a premium price to get what they want," she said.
"It is particularly important that customers can take traders at their word in cases where it's hard for them to verify claims about a product."
The case is part of a larger prosecution by the Commerce Commission of four men associated with the former Cavan Forde Group of companies. The commission alleges the four made similar breaches in misrepresenting products as Hebel products between 2007 and 2013.
Auckland-based Chris Middleditch has pleaded guilty to the charges and is awaiting sentencing. The other defendants, Dunedin-based father and son Cavan and Martin Forde have entered not guilty pleas.