A judge said two companies created a fake certificate to provide false assurance to customers about the seismic steel mesh they were selling.
Radio New Zealand reported yesterday that the companies, NZ Steel Distributor - which imported the steel from China - and its related company, Timber King - which sold it - have together been fined $400,000 for misleading customers.
This, Radio NZ said, was the first sentencing to result from the steel mesh scandal two years ago.
“The creation of the fake certificate can only have been deliberately carried out in order to provide an additional false assurance of compliance with the Standard,” said Auckland District Court Judge Robert Ronayne in his judgement.
The forged test certificate claimed the steel had been independently tested and complied with standards that allowed for its structural use in an earthquake zone.
“The use of non-compliant steel mesh, especially in the context of earthquake-compliant mesh, has actual and potentially enormous consequences for consumers, for competitors and for the reputation of the building industry,” the Judge said.
Radio NZ said the standard for mesh, used in most new house foundations and in some commercial buildings, was strengthened five-fold after the Christchurch earthquake.
“It is quite obvious in NZ, given our history of earthquakes and the consequences of them, that there is a vital need for consumers to rely on representations as to standard compliance,” Judge Ronayne said.
He described steps the two companies took to ensure the mesh was up to standard, were “grossly negligent.”
Listed company Steel and Tube Ltd (NZX: STU), which pleaded guilty to 24 charges, is among the other companies that await sentencing over steel mesh.
Brilliance Steel pleaded guilty to 20 charges and will be sentenced on May 25.
Radio NZ said the Commerce Commission filed 59 charges against Euro Corporation last December. Fletcher Steel was issued with a warning, while the country's biggest mesh supplier United Steel, and Pacific Steel, were issued with compliance advice.