Arrest for 1080 milk powder threat

A man has been arrested on charges relating to last year’s threat to contaminate infant formula with 1080:

New Zealand Police have arrested a 60-year-old Auckland businessman in relation to the criminal blackmail threat to poison infant formula with 1080, made public in March this year.

The man is appearing in the Counties Manukau District Court this afternoon on two charges of criminal blackmail, relating to threat letters sent to dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group and Federated Farmers in November last year. Blackmail is punishable by up to 14 years in jail.

The arrest follows the execution of five search warrants in Auckland and the Rangitikei district this morning.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said today’s arrest follows a long and complex 11-month investigation, that has cost over $3 million and involved a 35-strong investigation team.

“This investigation is one of the biggest undertaken by police in recent times and reflects how seriously we view this kind of crime,” he said.

The Operation Conchord team had used a range of forensic techniques in gathering evidence, some that were innovative and could be used in future investigations, he said.

It’s believed the arrested man was acting alone and no further arrests are expected though Bush said he couldn’t comment on his motivations for the threatened blackmail.

More than 2,600 people were considered by the investigation team over the course of the enquiry.

Ministry for Primary Industries chief executive Martyn Dunne said the safety of consumers was paramount during the investigation. . . 

This is weclome progress in the case and police deserve credit for the work that must have gone into gathering evidence.

MPI and others involved in ensuring infant formula is safe have also done good work.

6 Responses to Arrest for 1080 milk powder threat

  1. Will Dwan says:

    The usual fortnight’s home detention won’t do here, an example needs to be set. And I would suggest name suppression is a bit pointless. How many Auckland (Manukau) businesses have an alternative to 1080 on the market? Took me about three minutes.


  2. Dave Kennedy says:

    I agree, Ele.

    I think the Government did the right thing being transparent about this despite the short term commercial repercussions. It lets the world know that our Government and industry will front foot issues and are transparent about potential risks. While we may have lost some money it gives us the sort of credibility that VW have recently lost. Because we exposed the blackmail plot and the police have caught the individual behind it it is less likely that we will have a repeat. This is the best result from a very tricky situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. andrei says:

    To be frank Dave Kennedy they actually sat on this for nearly five months before going public – that is not transparency, though it may have been sensible logistically


  4. Dave Kennedy says:

    Andrei, I think Fonterra (despite the fact that 300 of their staff earn more than surgeons and 17 of them earn over $1 million a year) handles crises poorly. I was commenting on the Government’s decision to go public despite considerable commercial pressure not to. I generally criticise this Government for putting economics before people but in this case I thought it should be praised for doing the right thing.


  5. andrei says:

    Dave the whys and wherefores of why this was sat on for five months is beyond my ken so I cannot make an assessment as to why this happened

    You bring up the VW scandal and in that there is far more than meets the eye – basically though very few normal cars, if any, meet the California Emissions standards in normal everyday use – a dirty little secret and a sword of Damocles hanging over every car maker who can be punished at anytime the authorities want to make an example – who gets done gets done for political reasons

    A few years ago Les Paul Guitars had their stocks of ebony seized by the Feds because it had allegedly been illegally exported from Madagascar – cost them $5,000,000 to get it back.

    This was actually almost certainly payback for not supporting Barack Obama in the 2008 election – we live in a corrupt world


  6. Dave Kennedy says:

    “…we live in a corrupt world”

    We certainly do, Andrei. One thing I am trying push within my party is the idea that promoting good process around decision making may be a more useful campaign than what we would like as the end result. I often have arguments here about what I would like to see happen with farming in New Zealand and many of my ideas would never be accepted in this forum. However if we had an agreement that farm management should be evidence based and there were financial incentives for those who moved towards best practice, the politics would be removed from the process.

    It used to be like that with Education, the old Education Department was lead by people like Beeby and a team of professionals who led public education based on the current knowledge of child development and evidence of what worked. New Zealand led the world in education under this model. Over time the Department became a Ministry and decisions became politically driven rather than professionally driven. Ten years ago the Ministry embarked on an ambitious set of documents called the “Best Evidence Synthesis”. These looked at learning areas and leadership and brought together all the research of the time to promote best practice (there is a similar approach in medicine). The Government ignored all this and have driven system change based on ideology with no reference to these documents. The Ministry is now staffed by a higher level of bureaucrats than education professionals.

    An efficient public service is not one that runs on a oily rag, but one that is effective in what it does (cost/benefit). If our public service was effective children under CYFs care would be properly cared for, tax fraud would be detected far more effectively, schools would produce amazingly capable people and enable us to lead the world in innovation and our farms would be supported by timely research and innovative product development.

    Corruption generally occurs because there is a vacuum in the regulatory and monitoring space to allow it to occur. I do not support a highly regulated, police state (especially one that is politically led) but surely we should have systems and processes that encourage and celebrate good practice and quickly identify practice that isn’t. We want good teachers in classrooms, good farmers and a strong sustainable economy. We won’t get this when governments have a laissez faire approach to leadership and allow greed and corruption to continue unchecked (the GFC banking debacle was a prime example).


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