Unregistered motor vehicle seller convicted and fined

An unregistered motor vehicle trader has been fined after he was convicted of breaching the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 (MVSA).

40-year-old Michael Costello of Manurewa, Auckland was convicted after a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) investigation charged the man with 1 count of trading motor vehicles while being unregistered.

The MBIE investigation found that Mr Costello had 23 motor vehicles registered in his name from 30 October 2017 to 29 October 2018 while unregistered. The vehicles, ranging from a Holden Commodore to a Suzuki motorcycle, were subsequently, and relatively quickly, transferred into the names of other persons.

At a judge-alone trial earlier this year, Mr Costello was found guilty of carrying on the business of motor vehicle trading without being registered. At the trial, Costello claimed his driver’s license was used to transfer vehicles without his knowledge or permission. The Judge did not find this claim either credible or reliable.

Mr Costello was sentenced at the Manukau District Court to a reduced fine of $5,500 and ordered to pay $500 towards legal costs. At sentencing last week, the Judge agreed with the prosecutor’s submissions that the fine was in the $14,000 to $16,000 range however made a significant downwards adjustment to account for Mr Costello’s personal circumstances.

Commenting on the sentencing, the Registrar of Motor Vehicle Traders, Duncan Connor said:

“The Motor Vehicle Sales Act has certain provisions to protect the public when they are purchasing a motor vehicle, with greater protection offered to consumers when purchasing a car from a registered motor trader.

Unregistered motor vehicle traders are prohibited from selling more than 6 vehicles in a 12-month period. In exceeding this limit, Mr Costello broke the law.

MBIE will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those that deliberately breach the MVSA and I would strongly encourage anyone considering purchasing a car to check whether the person or company they are purchasing from is a registered motor vehicle trader on the online register.”

Consumers can check whether the person they are purchasing from is a registered motor vehicle trader by accessing the public register.

Motor Vehicle Traders Register(external link)

Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 section 95 – New Zealand Legislation(external link)