After revelations in news outlets this morning that Steel & Tube Holdings Ltd had pleaded guilty – in August – to 24 charges of making false & misleading representations about its seismic mesh products, the company issued a statement to the NZX confirming the guilty pleas.
The company set out numerous dates concerning testing, logos & methodologies, but didn’t mention that it had gone from co-operating with the Commerce Commission to guilty pleas over 3 months ago. It will be sentenced in March.
Steel & Tube interim chief executive Mark Malpass said in today’s statement to the NZX: “On 7 June 2017, Steel & Tube confirmed that the Commerce Commission had filed charges against the company under the Fair Trading Act in relation to 500E grade seismic mesh. The charges in regards to compliance with the testing standard for seismic mesh relate to the application of testing methodologies only, not the performance characteristics of the seismic mesh.
“12 charges relate to the inadvertent use of a testing laboratories logo at the bottom of the test certificates of SE62 mesh. Steel & Tube acknowledged the mistake in March 2016 and immediately removed the logo.
“The remaining 12 charges relate to the application of testing methodologies in the applicable standard, not the performance characteristics of the mesh.
“Steel & Tube has been co-operating with the commission to reach an appropriate resolution of the charges and has entered guilty pleas to the charges.
“Steel & Tube takes quality & compliance very seriously and, since April 2016, the company has had external accredited laboratories testing seismic mesh. The company has also taken significant steps to enhance its quality & product assurance systems.
“These charges relate to historical matters that are before the courts and the company cannot comment further.”
As if to make itself look not so bad, Steel & Tube added: “The commission has previously confirmed it has filed charges against 2 other companies in relation to false & misleading representations about seismic mesh. The commission has also said previously that it expected to lay charges against one other company, and that investigations continued into another.”
Steel & Tube also added some background – which, through this 2-year episode, has made the company look less bad, even good, for its proactive approach.
Mr Malpass said: “There were significant interpretational issues with the standard for testing seismic mesh. The ambiguities in the standard led to Steel & Tube calling for a Government/industry review of the testing standard and, in November last year, the clarification that Steel & Tube had sought was issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Enterprise.
“Clarification of the standard gives all seismic mesh manufacturers & sellers certainty regarding how seismic mesh is to be tested to ensure it complies with the standard. It also gives building owners reassurance that all seismic mesh will now be tested in the same way.”
8 June 2017: Updated: Commission files 29 charges against Steel & Tube over mesh
8 April 2016: Steel & Tube undertakes dual mesh testing
5 March 2016: Suppliers recheck as commission questions steel mesh, ministry not worried
Attribution: Company release.