By NZHJ October 25, 2018 Industry news

Updated: Having been fined a record almost $1.9 million under the Fair Trading Act for "making false and misleading representations" about its steel mesh products, Steel & Tube responds.

Steel & Tube has been fined a record $1.885 million for breaching the Fair Trading Act by "making false and misleading representations" about its steel mesh products.

This is the highest fine to date under the Fair Trading Act for a single company.

Steel & Tube was sentenced after it pleaded guilty to 24 charges under the Act.

The charges relate to conduct between 1 March 2012 and 5 April 2016 and cover 482 batches and some 480,000 sheets of steel mesh.

Steel & Tube's offending fell into two categories, says the Commerce Commission:

  1. Representations that were liable to mislead the public on batch tags, batch test certificates, advertising collateral and Steel & Tube’s website that its SE62 steel mesh was 500E grade steel mesh meeting the Australia/New Zealand Standard for reinforcing steel, when it was not. Steel & Tube failed to properly age and test the product.
  2. False and misleading representations on batch test certificates and Steel & Tube’s website claiming the steel mesh had been independently tested when it had not. 

In his judgment released today, Judge Cathcart said Steel & Tube management should have better supervised the compliance of the products and put systems in place to ensure this was adequately carried out.

After the ruling was released, Steel & Tube responded pointing out that the ruling "does not relate to the performance characteristics of the steel mesh" and that the company "took significant remedial steps after it became aware of concerns".

Steel & Tube CEO, Mark Malpass, added: “We stand by the integrity of our products.

"In our view even if our testing methods at the time did not meet the testing requirements in full, the differences in testing would not have a material impact on the performance of the steel mesh.”

The Commerce Commission carried out a series of investigations into steel mesh following a complaint in August 2015, the outcomes of which are as follows:

  • Fletcher Steel was issued with a warning.
  • United Steel and Pacific Steel (NZ) were issued with compliance advice.
  • Timber King and NZ Steel Distributor were sentenced and fined $400,950 after pleading guilty to seven charges.
  • Brilliance International was sentenced and fined $540,000 after pleading guilty to 20 charges.
  • Steel & Tube has now been fined $1.885m after pleading guilty to 24 charges.
  • 59 charges against Euro Corporation are before the courts.

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