SIR NGATATA LOVE
Sir Ralph Ngatata Love was jailed for two years’ six months in October 2016. The retired professor emeritus, Maori leader and Treaty of Waitangi negotiator was prosecuted for his role in fraud related to a significant commercial property development in Wellington. The land was owned by the Wellington Tenths Trust, of which Sir Ngatata Love was the Chair. It administers Maori reserve land largely in the urban Wellington area.
Sir Ngatata Love arranged for a total of $1,687,500 to be paid into his partner Lorraine Skiffington’s account, for the pair’s benefit. The payments were part of a premium the developers were willing to pay for leasehold rights on the land. They were not disclosed to the remaining trustees. The money was used to pay down the mortgage on a large home in Plimmerton the pair had bought months earlier.
The offending was uncovered only after Inland Revenue began investigating Ms Skiffington’s accountants. Ms Skiffington, a lawyer who had held senior advisory roles within central government, had her charges permanently stayed in August 2015 due to ill-health. Sir Ngatata Love’s son, Matene Love, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Secret Commissions Act and was sentenced to six months of home detention in October 2015.
Mr Roberts was the former asset manager of Te Roopu and former trustee and employee of Te Kawerau.
While he was employed by Te Roopu from 2012 to 2014, Mr Roberts received about $160,000 in kickbacks from various suppliers to the disability trust, including auto repairs workshops owned by his co-defendant, Atish Narayan. At no stage did Mr Roberts tell anyone at the trust that the suppliers were paying him cash to obtain the trust’s business.
In total, suppliers to Te Roopu paid kickbacks to Mr Roberts to secure about $1.5 million of the trust’s business. The trust is a public health care provider for people with intellectual disabilities, and has received funding from the Ministry of Health and other government agencies.
Mr Roberts had also received about $45,000 in kickbacks in 2009 for withdrawing public submissions he lodged on behalf of Te Kawerau, which was set up to settle treaty claims, in opposition to a proposed change to a district plan. The company that made the payment was unaware Mr Roberts was acting without the knowledge and consent of his employer.
Saul Robert’s co-defendant, Atish Narayan, pleaded guilty to two charges under section three of the Secret Commissions Act, and one Crimes Act charge of ‘Obtaining by deception’ in August 2017. Mr Narayan owned two auto repair businesses which provided services to Te Roopu. Mr Narayan made undisclosed payments to Mr Roberts, in return for Mr Roberts arranging for vehicles owned by Te Roopu to be serviced or repaired at his businesses.
Mr Narayan was sentenced to six months’ home detention and ordered to pay $14,000 in reparation in October 2017.