Former employee of government-funded charity jailed

Published

A former employee of a charity that offered social support services in Auckland has been sentenced to two years and one month of imprisonment on charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Tapualii Raewyn Uitime (49) was sentenced today in the Manukau District Court on three representative charges of ‘Forgery’ and six representative charges of ‘Dishonestly using a document’.

Ms Uitime defrauded the now defunct Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project of approximately $260,000. The defendant was the operations manager of the charity, which received most of its funding from the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections.

The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Ms Uitime abused her position of trust to steal a significant amount of public funds that were allocated for social support services, including family support, counselling and family violence education within the Pacific Island community in Auckland. The defendant used the funds for her own benefit, including on gambling. The offending was not spur of the moment, but a course of conduct which continued over several years.”

Ms Uitime’s co-defendant Betty Leuina Sio (56) has pleaded not guilty to two charges of ‘Dishonestly using a document’. Her trial is scheduled to commence in the Manukau District Court on 18 January 2021.

ENDS

Media contact

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background information

From June 2008 to March 2018, the Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project (the Project) was a registered charity.

The Project described itself as a community development social service that integrated cultural practices to enhance the wellbeing of communities. The Project offered a range of social support services including family support, counselling, parenting, family violence education, domestic violence programmes for men, youth programmes, a women’s support group, community development, and a Pacific cultural framework for addressing family violence.

The Project was receiving government funding of about $2.5 million per annum by mid-2014 to provide domestic violence prevention services to the Pacific Island community, mostly in the Auckland region. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections.

Crimes Act offences

228 Dishonestly taking or using document
(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,—

(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or

(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

(2) 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 knowing that—

(a) the document was, dishonestly and without claim of right, taken, obtained, or used; and

(b) the document was dealt with in the manner specified in paragraph (a) with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration.

256 Forgery

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who makes a false document with the intention of using it to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration.

(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who makes a false document, knowing it to be false, with the intent that it in any way be used or acted upon, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere, as genuine.

(3) Forgery is complete as soon as the document is made with the intent described in subsection (1) or with the knowledge and intent described in subsection (2).

(4) Forgery is complete even though the false document may be incomplete, or may not purport to be such a document as would be binding or sufficient in law, if it is so made and is such as to indicate that it was intended to be acted upon as genuine.

(5) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any false document knowing it to be false and to have been made with the intention that it be used or acted on (in New Zealand or elsewhere) as genuine.

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 and low levels of corruption.

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 the agency’s achievements over the past year and is available online at www.sfo.govt.nz.

 

 The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ.