Maori King’s former assistant pleads guilty to fraud

Published

An employee of a charitable trust that provided financial support to the office of the Māori King has pleaded guilty to charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Te Rangihiroa Whakaruru (56) pleaded guilty today to five charges of ‘Obtaining by deception’ under the Crimes Act and one charge of ‘Supplying false or misleading information’ under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The six charges against Mr Whakaruru relate to his role as principal private secretary to Kiingi Tūheitia, the Māori King. The defendant’s role has also been described as general manager or chief executive of Ururangi Trust.

The defendant has been remanded on bail to reappear in the Auckland District Court on 24 April.

ENDS

Issued by

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

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.

Serious Fraud Office Act offences

Section 45 Offence to obstruct investigation, etc

Every person commits an offence, and is liable on conviction,—

(a) in the case of an individual, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding $15,000:

(b) in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding $40,000,—

who,—

(c) without lawful justification or excuse, resists, obstructs, or delays any member of the Serious Fraud Office in the exercise of any power conferred by section 9; or

(d) without lawful justification or excuse, refuses or fails to—

(i) attend before the Director; or

(ii) answer any question; or

(iii) supply any information; or

(iv) produce any document; or

(v) provide any explanation; or

(vi) comply with any other requirement,—

as required pursuant to the exercise of any power conferred by section 9; or

(e) in the course of complying with any requirement imposed pursuant to section 5 or section 9, gives an answer to any question, or supplies any information, or produces any document, or provides any explanation, knowing that it is false or misleading in a material particular or being reckless as to whether it is so false or misleading.

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

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ