Maori King’s former assistant sentenced for $111,000 fraud

Published

A former assistant of the Māori King has been sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and 300 hours of community work. He was also ordered to make full reparation for stealing approximately $111,000 of charitable funds and lying to the Serious Fraud Office.

Te Rangihiroa Whakaruru (57) committed the offences while he was employed by a charitable trust that provided financial support to the office of the Māori King. He pleaded guilty in December last year 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 were brought by the SFO in relation to Mr Whakaruru’s 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 Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Mr Whakaruru abused his position of trust, by deceiving members of the Waikato-Tainui iwi, to steal a significant amount of charitable funds. The defendant’s criminal and selfish actions have compromised the reputation of the Office of the Māori King. The active misleading of the SFO during an investigation is a serious offence and resulted in additional public funds being spent to resolve this case.”

ENDS

Media contact

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 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