Auckland man fined $30,000 for biosecurity offences

An Auckland businessman has been convicted and fined $30,000 for breaking rules intended to keep New Zealand safe from pests and diseases, and trying to cover it up.

Sanjive Ramavtar Kapoor, 53, manager and owner of Divine Logistics Limited, was sentenced in the Manukau District Court this week. He pleaded guilty to three charges related to the offending.

Sea containers imported into New Zealand must be sent to registered sites and opened at approved transitional facilities to ensure any biosecurity risk is addressed.

Mr Kapoor broke both of these requirements and compounded the offending by providing Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) investigators with falsified documents. 

MPI regional manager compliance investigations North, Simon Anderson said this type of non-compliance posed a risk to biosecurity.

“The prosecution is a reminder for importers that MPI will take appropriate action when offending is detected,” said Mr Anderson.

“Attempting to cover up their activities by providing MPI investigators with falsified documents makes the offending much more serious,” he said.

“The rules are there for a reason. Imported sea containers can carry unwanted and highly destructive pests and diseases.

“The introduction of these organisms could have a significant, and potentially devastating, impact on New Zealand’s economy. New Zealand enjoys a good reputation internationally for being free from a number of pests and diseases, and we need to keep it that way.”

On 17 December 2018, an off duty MPI senior quarantine officer observed an imported sea container being unpacked outside a private address near Mangere Bridge, Auckland. The address was not an MPI Approved Transitional Facility (ATF) and was not authorised to receive imported sea containers.

The officer made some initial enquiries before launching a thorough investigation. MPI discovered that Mr Kapoor redirected containers from Approved Transitional Facilities 22 times between 21 June 2018 and 31 January 2019. Mr Kapoor admitted to opening and unpacking 12 of these containers.

MPI also found that Mr Kapoor had falsified 20 of the container log sheets he gave to the MPI investigators.