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Two men who worked for the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and Otakaro Ltd have pleaded not guilty to corruption charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Two men who worked for the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and Ōtākaro Ltd have pleaded not guilty to corruption charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Gerard Anthony Gallagher (62) and Simon Carl Nikoloff (57) had sought name suppression, but the Christchurch High Court declined their applications. The defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of ‘Corrupt use of official information’ under the Crimes Act.

The charges against the defendants are in relation to their conduct as employees of CERA and its successor company, Ōtākaro Ltd.

Mr Gallagher and Mr Nikoloff have been remanded on bail. They are due to next appear in the Christchurch High Court on 23 October. Their trial is scheduled to commence on 16 August 2021.


Media contact

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background information

Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) was established in March 2011 under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 and operated until April 2016. CERA coordinated the rebuild of Christchurch and the surrounding areas following the 22 February 2011 earthquake. Following the disestablishment of CERA, Ōtākaro Ltd commenced as CERA’s successor.

Crimes Act offences

105A Corrupt use of official information

Every official is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, whether within New Zealand or elsewhere, corruptly uses or discloses any information, acquired by him or her in his or her official capacity, to obtain, directly or indirectly, an advantage or a pecuniary gain for himself or herself or any other person.

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 link).

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ(external link)