Charges laid for Auckland International Airport fraud

Published

A woman has appeared in the Auckland District Court today on Crimes Act charges laid by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Teremoana Kimiangatau (53) is alleged to have committed fraud against Auckland International Airport Limited to the value of approximately $1.8 million. She faces three representative charges of ‘Obtaining by deception'.

Mrs Kimiangatau has pleaded guilty to all charges.

Mrs Kimiangatau transferred funds from the Auckland International Airport Limited bank account to her own account and she facilitated this by changing client bank account numbers to her own within the airport's accounting system.

SFO Director, Julie Read, said that risk factors in some environments can give rise to opportunities for this sort of offending. "Checks and balances need to be in place to detect fraud, and most importantly, those checks need to be taken seriously as opposed to treating them as nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. Mrs Kimiangatau's responsibilities allowed her to pass invoices for authorisation many times and make changes to client information without being challenged."

Auckland International Airport Limited referred the matter to the SFO in February 2016.

Mrs Kimiangatau will next appear in the Auckland District Court on 9 November 2016.

ENDS

For further media information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to Editors

Background to investigation

Teremoana Kimiangatau was employed by Auckland International Airport Limited for 18 years in the role of accounts clerk. Mrs Kimiangatau was dismissed from this role in February 2016.

Crimes Act offences

Section 240 Obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception
(1) Every one is guilty of obtaining by deception or causing loss by deception who, by any deception and without claim of right,-
(a) obtains ownership or possession of, or control over, any property, or any privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, directly or indirectly; or
(b) in incurring any debt or liability, obtains credit; or
(c) induces or causes any other person to deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse, destroy, or alter any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage; or
(d) causes loss to any other person.

(1A) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document or thing capable of being used to derive a pecuniary advantage knowing that, by deception and without claim of right, the document or thing was, or was caused to be, delivered, executed, made, accepted, endorsed, or altered.

(2) In this section, deception means-
(a) a false representation, whether oral, documentary, or by conduct, where the person making the representation intends to deceive any other person and-
(i) knows that it is false in a material particular; or
(ii) is reckless as to whether it is false in a material particular; or
(b) an omission to disclose a material particular, with intent to deceive any person, in circumstances where there is a duty to disclose it; or
(c) a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem used with intent to deceive any person.

About the SFO

The SFO was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

The SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:

  • business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
  • public confidence in our justice system and public service
  • New Zealand's international business reputation.

The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director "has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud."

Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: "...the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed..."

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

  • the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
  • the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
  • the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
  • any relevant public interest considerations.


The SFO's Annual Report 2015 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO's strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz