3 Jul 2023

Eighth company involved in alleged multimillion-dollar fake fat export fraud named

3:01 pm on 3 July 2023
Detail of the wall behind the judge in a court room at the Manukau District Court.

Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

The last company, and two of its directors, involved in an alleged multimillion-dollar fake fat export fraud can now be named.

Tuakau Proteins is the eighth company charged with unlawfully making and exporting an estimated $29 million worth of tainted fat and meat and bone meal, following an investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Two of the company's directors, Glenn Raymond Smith and Stephen Eric Dahlenburg, are also facing charges under the Animals Products Act and Crimes Act. They can now be named after suppression orders expired.

Smith and Dahlenburg, as well as several companies they are linked with, were already facing a raft of charges in relation to the case.

The two other directors of Tuakau Proteins, Andy Lowe and Philip Hocquard, both prominent Hawke's Bay businessmen, were not facing any charges.

It can also now be revealed, after a High Court suppression order was lifted, that Tuakau Proteins was placed into receivership on 28 April.

In a joint statement through their lawyer, Mai Chen, Lowe and Hocquard said they sought name suppression until the first call of those charged appeared in court.

"This has now happened and it is public knowledge that Mr Lowe and Mr Hocquard are not charged. Mr Lowe and Mr Hocquard have not sought to renew interim name suppression when it expired on 30 June.

"Mr Lowe and Mr Hocquard also got receivers appointed for TPL with powers regarding the MPI prosecution as it was not appropriate for the charged directors of TPL to be involved in taking those decisions. This is a limited receivership solely for the MPI proceedings and does not apply to the whole business.

"The MPI prosecution is currently ongoing and no further comment will be made while it is."

The other companies charged in the MPI case were Wallace Proteins, Taranaki By-Products, Glenninburg Holdings, SBT Group, Brett Marsh Transport, GrainCorp Commodity Management, and GrainCorp Liquid Terminals.

Smith, 54, a director of Glenninburg Holdings, SBT Group, Taranaki By-Products and Tuakau Proteins, faces a total of 14 charges.

Auckland businessman Stephen Eric Dahlenburg, 56, a director of Wallace Proteins and Glenninburg Holdings, faces 10 charges.

Former Taranaki By-Products plant manager, Paul Alfred Drake, 59, faces two charges and former Wallace Proteins manager Curtis Webber also faces two charges.

The defendants charges include knowingly mixing unapproved ingredients, such as used cooking oil or chicken fat, into its products to improve the quality; and falsifying or applying misleading export and traceability certificates in order to sell more than 20,000 tonnes of tainted tallow and 16,400 tonnes of adulterated bone meal overseas between March 2019 and August 2020 with New Zealand official assurance, when it was not eligible for such assurance.

The maximum penalty for some of the charges is five years imprisonment and a $100,000 fine.

All defendants had previously entered not guilty pleas and elected a judge alone trial.