Former ACC National Property Manager pleads guilty

Published

Former ACC National Property Manager pleads guilty to corruption charges brought by the SFO

Malcolm David Mason today pleaded guilty to two Crimes Act and one Secret Commissions Act charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) arising from his activities as National Property Manager for the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).

SFO Chief Executive, Adam Feeley, said although corruption cases were rare in New Zealand, it was important to deal with them swiftly in order to maintain public confidence.

“New Zealand has a hard-earned reputation for very low levels of corruption, and that reputation needs to be protected by constant vigilance by government agencies, along with public cooperation in reporting untoward activities.”

Mr Mason admitted corruptly receiving a payment of $160,000 from a property developer in return for using his position at the ACC to ensure the involvement of a developer known to him in the construction and leasing of a new ACC branch office.

Mr Mason also admitted corruptly receiving a gift to the value of $9,000, in the form of a business class trip to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, from a real estate agent in return for involving him in securing a long term lease for another ACC building. 

In addition to receiving the payment and the gift, Mr Mason also admitted passing a confidential document listing all Government Departmental Security Officers to an associate involved in the business of installing security systems.

Mr Feeley said that there were always lessons to be learned following a criminal investigation, and this case was no exception.

“Part of the SFO’s role is to work closely with other agencies to help prevent future fraud or corruption. We have spoken with a number of parties in this case to advise them of opportunities to help minimise future fraud risks.”

Mr Mason was remanded on bail for sentencing on 15 March 2011.

For further information

Adam Feeley
Chief Executive
Serious Fraud Office
Phone: 021 333 539

Note to editors

Case summary

Malcolm David Mason is a 50 year old male who had worked at ACC for a period of 32 years. At the relevant time he was the ACC’s National Property Manager. In that role he had responsibility for the procurement of premises for the use of ACC, tendering for the development of such premises and negotiating lease terms between ACC and the landlords of those premises.

$160,000 payment

In late 2006 ACC identified a need to replace some of its existing premises.  As National Property Manager, Mr Mason was responsible for overseeing and controlling the process.

Mr Mason passed details of ACC intentions to a property developer with whom he had a personal friendship. This information allowed the developer to purchase the site that Mr Mason subsequently recommended to his superiors as being suitable for the new ACC branch.

Mr Mason’s influence at ACC ensured that the developer received the opportunity to develop the new building and agree a long term lease with the ACC. Once the lease was secured the developer sold the building for a profit and paid Mr Mason $160,000 from the proceeds.

$9,000 gift

In 2007 Mr Mason was tasked with finding another location for ACC offices.  He engaged a real estate agent to assist in identifying a suitable site and negotiate a lease.

In 2008 ACC entered into a lease for a site based upon Mr Mason’s recommendations.

For his part in the process the agent received a commission that was consistent with industry practise. Following receipt of his commission payment, the agent paid for Mr Mason to accompany him to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The gift, which included flights and accommodation, was valued at approximately $9,000. Mr Mason neglected to disclose the gift to ACC and later took steps to deceive his supervisor about the true nature of the trip.

Disclosure of Confidential Document

In November 2007 Mr Mason emailed a Government Department Security Officer Listing to a personal friend who was in the business of installing and maintaining security systems in buildings.

The document listed the names and contact details of all designated Security Officers within government departments.

The document is clearly marked “In Confidence”, which is a government level of information security at a lower level than secret.

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud 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 2010-2012 sets out the SFO’s three year strategic goals and performance standards.  It is available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz