The former head of a charity which sought to help prevent family violence has today been found guilty of using fake invoices to steal around $44,000 from the organisation.
In a reserved decision issued today, Betty Sio was found guilty on two charges of dishonestly using a document following a judge alone trial in the Manukau District Court in January.
Ms Sio helped to establish the Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project and was chief executive from 2009 until 2015.
The Project was established to provide prevention, education, counselling and development services to the Pacific Island community in Auckland.
By 2014 it was receiving around $2.5 million in funding per year to provide domestic violence prevention services. Most of the funding was from the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections.
Ms Sio and former operations manager Tapualii Raewyn Uitime were largely responsible for managing the use of this funding.
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.
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.
“As chief executive, Ms Sio was responsible for distributing funds that could have made a significant difference to the lives of vulnerable people in her community,” says SFO Director Karen Chang.
“She abused her position by taking advantage of lax financial controls to steal $44,000 for herself and turned a blind eye to the actions of Ms Uitime, who stole around $216,000.
“This was prolonged offending over the course of years, and ultimately contributed to the closure of an organisation which had been recognised as providing a valuable and important service.”
* The eighth paragraph of this release was amended on 20 August 2023 to clarify Ms Sio's offending.