Former Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project head Betty Sio was sentenced to a fine of $3,000 today after being found guilty on Serious Fraud Office charges in March 2023.
The Project provided prevention, education, counselling and development services to the Pacific Island community in Auckland.
Ms Sio helped to establish the charity and was Chief Executive from 2009 until 2015.
By 2014 it was receiving around $2.5 million in Government funding per year to provide domestic violence prevention services.
Ms Sio and former operations manager Tapualii Raewyn Uitime were largely responsible for managing the use of this funding.
Between them they stole around $260,000. Ms Uitime stole about $216,000 by creating fake invoices from suppliers and authorising cash cheques to pay them. Ms Sio benefited from the proceeds of two cashed cheques, stealing about $44,000.
Ms Sio was found guilty in March 2023 on two charges of dishonestly using a document.
Ms Uitime pleaded guilty in July 2020 to three charges of forgery and six representative charges of dishonestly using a document. She was sentenced in October 2020 to two years and one month imprisonment.
“Instead of using the funding given to the charity to make a difference to the lives of her community, Ms Sio abused her position of trust and responsibility to steal $44,000. She also turned a blind eye to Ms Uitime, who stole around $216,000,” says SFO Director Karen Chang.
“Fraud that targets or disproportionately harms a particularly vulnerable community or group is a focus area for the Serious Fraud Office.
“It is destabilising to our social fabric, damages trust in community leadership and institutions.
“Misappropriating government funding can also further exacerbate an issue and undermine government efforts.
“In this case, the actions of Ms Sio and Ms Uitime ultimately contributed to the closure of an organisation which had been recognised as providing a valuable and important service to its community.”
* The sixth paragraph of this release was amended on 20 August 2023 to clarify Ms Sio's offending.