Wine boss charged with corruption
A former Auckland rugby powerbroker has been charged with corruption for allegedly taking a kickback from a client of his wine company.
Peter Scutts appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning on 16 counts of dishonestly using a document and one count of receiving secret commissions.
Scutts, 58, is the former chief executive of the Auckland Blues rugby franchise and speculation had linked him with a return to the job.
The SFO charges relate to Scutts' former position as the chief executive of the NZX-listed New Zealand Wine Company, marketer of Marlborough wine brand Grove Mill.
The charges allege he entered into an arrangement with an Australian customer to receive kickbacks from a supply deal.
The SFO says Scutts' board had no knowledge of this arrangement, through which Scutts received $64,000.
In New Zealand Wine Company's report for the year to 2012 Scutts said: "We have made significant changes to how we market our wines. The best gains have been our efforts in Australia, which have helped clear our excess stock and developed new channels to our consumers."
Scutts remained chief executive until September 2012 when New Zealand Wine Company merged with NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines.
Foley Family Wines chief executive Mark Turnbull congratulated the SFO for laying charges only two months after beginning its investigation.
"The SFO dealt with it in a very expedient manner. Also this happened before Foley Family Wines took over the company in a reverse takeover," he said.
Turnbull refused further comment, saying the matter was before the courts.
"Given the amount of work and effort the SFO have put into it, there's no way I'd do anything to prejudice that," he said.
Acting SFO director Graham Gill said the rarity of the corruption charge was no reason for complacency.
"New Zealand has a very good international reputation for low levels of corruption and SFO is determined this is maintained," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News