False claims ac­corded stiff penalty

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

Telling peo­ple tap wa­ter causes can­cer and mis­car­riages, and comes from the sew­er­age sys­tem has earned a busi­ness­man and his com­pany hefty fines.

Dur­ing 2009 and 2010 staff work­ing for Love Springs told po­ten­tial cus­tomers that drink­ing tap wa­ter could cause birth de­fects, leukaemia and asthma among other things to con­vince them to buy wa­ter fil­ters.

More than 6000 wa­ter fil­ters cost­ing $1600 each were sold in that time. The com­pany tar­geted vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in some of Auck­land’s low-in­come sub­urbs.

Sci­en­tific test­ing proved the claims of health risks were false.

In 2010 the Commerce Com­mis­sion got an in­junc­tion to stop Love Springs mak­ing the claims, which it says went against the Fair Trad­ing Act.

New­ton-based Love Springs was fined $355,000, and its di­rec­tor Phillip Smart $200,000, at the Auck­land Dis­trict Court last week.

Mr Smart has pre­vi­ously been con­victed of sim­i­lar of­fend­ing in Aus­tralia.

‘‘This was nasty and cyn­i­cal of­fend­ing which de­served the sig­nif­i­cant penal­ties im­posed,’’ Commerce Com­mis­sion head of in­ves­ti­ga­tions Ritchie Hut­ton says.

‘‘This of­fend­ing caused sig­nif­i­cant harm to the pub­lic.’’

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