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Former trustee pleads guilty to fraud

Tuesday 23rd January 2018

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A former trust asset manager and trustee has pleaded guilty to fraud in Auckland's High Court today over receiving secret payments in 2009 and 2012.

Saul Roberts was the asset manager for Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust, a public healthcare provider for people with intellectual disabilities, and a trustee and employee of Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority, set up to settle treaty claims.

In 2009, Roberts received a secret payment of $45,000 in return for withdrawing public submissions he had lodged on behalf of Te Kawerau against a proposed change to a district plan. The company that made the payment was unaware Roberts was acting without the knowledge and consent of his employer. 

In 2012, he received secret commission payments in return for contracting work to certain suppliers to Te Roopu, including businesses owned by Atish Narayan, and received a certain percentage of each invoice as a cash kickback.

Narayan pleaded guilty to three charges for the fraud in 2017 and was sentenced to six months’ home detention and ordered to pay $14,000 in reparation in October last year. Narayan owned two auto repair businesses and made payments to Roberts in exchange for him arranging for vehicles owned by Te Roopu to be serviced or repaired at his businesses.

"Deliberate acts of fraud against a publicly funded health care provider and a charitable trust are completely unacceptable and a matter of significant public concern," said Serious Fraud Office director Julie Read in a statement. "The SFO’s role is to prosecute such matters on behalf of New Zealanders in order to keep these organisations free from corruption."

Roberts will be sentenced on Feb. 27. 

(BusinessDesk)

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