NZ: kiwifruit grafting investigation could take two months, says Zespri
The matter arose after it was alleged that Zespri chairman Peter McBride's brother Murray was one of the farmers involved in the illegal plantings of the variety.
"Zespri is investigating more than one case of unauthorised Gold3 grafting, and one of these is on an orchard owned by a relative of Zespri Deputy Chairman, Peter McBride," a Zespri spokesperson said.
"While there is no indication of any wrongdoing, the Chairman of the Board, John Loughlin, has initiated an independent investigation after concerns about a possible association were raised by growers.
"Former judge and mediator and former chairman of Kiwifruit New Zealand, Sir Peter Trapski, has been appointed to investigate the ownership of the land on which the Gold3 has been grafted without a licence, whether anyone in Zespri had knowledge of the grafting, and the source of the grafting material."
The spokesperson said the outcome of the investigation would be communicated to the public.
No China updates yet
On the matter of Chinese fruit agent Liu Xiongjie, who sold Zespri kiwifruit and was charged with fruit import smuggling last year, the Zespri spokesperson said the company was not privy to any new information and understood the case was ongoing.
The spokesperson denied there was any travel ban for Zespri staff in China, but did not say whether any specific directors had visited the Chinese mainland since Tony de Farias in September.
"Senior Zespri staff continue to visit China when business requires, and our offices in China remain open and operating."