Commerce Commission staff yesterday executed a number of search warrants in Rotorua and Auckland in relation to an ongoing investigation in the tourism souvenir sector.
The Commission executed search warrants on 11 different premises (10 of those premises in Rotorua) after receiving information regarding products being sold to Chinese tourists that are represented as New Zealand made when they are allegedly imported.
“We have gathered a large amount of information as a result of the search warrants and will now assess this information before considering what action is appropriate under the Fair Trading Act,” said Commerce Commission Competition branch manager Greg Allan.
The investigation is part of a current Commission focus on souvenirs being sold to tourists as Made in New Zealand when they’re not.
Yesterday’s search warrants were a multi-agency initiative which also involved the Police, Customs, Immigration and the Wildlife Enforcement Group.
The Commission can make no further comment about the current investigation at this time.
Search warrant powers
The Fair Trading Act gives the Commission the power to obtain and execute search warrants.
A search warrant, issued by the District Court, means that the Commission may:
• search specified places, search for and remove goods, documents, computer records and other items;
• enter premises with force if necessary; and
• obtain assistance in the search from, for example, the police or computer experts.
The occupier or person in charge of the premises to be searched has to provide the Commission with reasonable facilities and assistance when a search warrant is executed. This includes assisting in:
• identifying and locating the information required; and
• reproducing information stored or recorded (such as computer records).
The Commission is able to take criminal action against any person who resists, obstructs or delays the Commission in executing a search warrant.