New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri has been dealt another blow in Asia after discovering its importers in Taiwan created fraudulent invoices to reduce their duty payments, reports The Bay of Plenty Times.
A request late last month from Taiwan Customs for Zespri to authenticate import documents led to the discovery of significant discrepancies, Zespri chief executive Lain Jager told the paper.
After investigating the issue, Jager flew to Taiwan last week to terminate the company's business relationship with its three importers in Taiwan, which is New Zealand's seventh largest market for kiwifruit.
The latest incident comes as Zespri continues to respond to a New Zealand Serious Fraud Office inquiry into dual invoicing issues in China that resulted in the company paying a multimillion-dollar fine and penalties last year, and the jailing in China of its former local importer.
"We recognise that on the back of the China invoicing issue this is unfortunate,'' Jager told The Bay of Plenty Times. "But there is no connection between the two events. As soon as we became aware that there were discrepancies in Taiwan, we've taken strong and decisive action, because we don't condone or accept them.''
Zespri was not aware of it being subject to any investigation as a result of the importers' actions, he said.
Jager noted that, while it was not technically Zespri's role to ensure its importers paid the appropriate duties, its experience in China and now in Taiwan meant it would begin taking pro-active measures to audit the duty payments of its importers in key developing Asian markets.
Zespri is working to set up replacement import and distribution arrangements, said Jager, and is considering the option of becoming the importer of record, as it is in Europe, Japan and Korea.