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Police and SFO investigating fraud allegations at Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society

Police and SFO investigating fraud allegations at Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society

New Zealand Police and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) confirmed today that they are jointly investigating allegations of employee fraud at the Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society (Hibernian).

The Hibernian Society is a friendly society which offers a range of financial services and mutual assistance to its members, including loans, life assurance, medical and household insurance.
SFO Director, Adam Feeley, said, “At this stage we cannot accurately quantify the scale of alleged fraud. However, it potentially affects a large number of members which, together with the volume of financial records, makes this case of interest to us.”

Mr Feeley said that the Police and SFO are working alongside each other, using their complementary skills and resources to better understand the scale and nature of the allegations.

“The Police and SFO are committed to working together to ensure there is a seamless approach to fighting white-collar crime. As this investigation progresses we will jointly agree which agency is best placed to conclude matters,” he said. 

Acting Wellington Area Commander Detective Inspector Steve Vaughan said, "The Wellington CIB is currently assisting SFO investigators in determining the extent of the fraud allegations.  Whilst the investigation is in its early stages, the combined resources of the SFO and Police will contribute to the matter being resolved in a short time frame.

"This joint investigation reinforces the strong working relationship between the SFO and Police.  The assistance and support provided between agencies at the operational level has resulted in some excellent outcomes in the past."

The SFO said that the investigation was receiving the full cooperation of Hibernian’s management and Board.

For further information

Sarah Knowles
Media Liaison
Serious Fraud Office
Phone: 021 675 998
Victoria Davis
Wellington Police District Communications Manager
Phone: 0274 373 020

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

The SFO operates three investigative teams:

  • Fraud Detection & Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud & 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…”

The SFO’s Statement of Intent 2011-2014 sets out the SFO’s three year strategic goals and performance standards.  It is available online at: link)