Defence Force administrator charged with fraud

Published

A woman has been charged for allegedly stealing non-public funds administered by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) while she was employed by the organisation.

The Serious Fraud Office accuses Paniparewhakaro Elizabeth Rangiuia (60) of embezzling $225,000 over seven years from accounts holding money raised by NZDF social clubs for the health, wellbeing and retention of army personnel.

Ms Rangiuia appeared today in the Levin District Court on three charges of ‘Theft by person in a special relationship’ and one charge of ‘False accounting’. The SFO, which brought the charges, claims Ms Rangiuia gambled much of the money she stole.

The defendant was remanded on bail to reappear in the Levin District Court for plea on 5 March.

ENDS

Issued by

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background information

Paniparewhakaro Elizabeth Rangiuia (60) was employed by the New Zealand Defence Force from 1987 until her dismissal in September 2018. She worked as a financial administrator of club‐related non‐public funds at Waiouru Military Training Facility from 2009.

Non-public funds are raised by army personnel through fund raising and other activities, as well as direct deposits by personnel. The funds are intended to be spent on services and amenities for the health, wellbeing and retention of army personnel. The funds are administered via multiple bank accounts and represent money from multiple clubs funded by army personnel money as opposed to public taxpayers’ money. The Army Non-Public Funds are a registered charity under the Charities Act 2005.

Crimes Act offences

Section 220 Theft by person in special relationship

(1) This section applies to any person who has received or is in possession of, or has control over, any property on terms or in circumstances that the person knows require the person—

(a) to account to any other person for the property, or for any proceeds arising from the property; or

(b) to deal with the property, or any proceeds arising from the property, in accordance with the requirements of any other person.

(2) Every one to whom subsection (1) applies commits theft who intentionally fails to account to the other person as so required or intentionally deals with the property, or any proceeds of the property, otherwise than in accordance with those requirements.

(3) This section applies whether or not the person was required to deliver over the identical property received or in the person’s possession or control.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (1), it is a question of law whether the circumstances required any person to account or to act in accordance with any requirements.

260 False accounting

Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who, with intent to obtain by deception any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration, or to deceive or cause loss to any other person,—

(a) makes or causes to be made, or concurs in the making of, any false entry in any book or account or other document required or used for accounting purposes; or

(b) omits or causes to be omitted, or concurs in the omission of, any material particular from any such book or account or other document; or

(c) makes any transfer of any interest in a stock, debenture, or debt in the name of any person other than the owner of that interest.

About the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.

The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.

This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.

The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.

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 2019 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Integrated Statement of Strategic Intent 2016-2020 sets out the SFO’s strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz

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