Corrupt city council employee imprisoned

Published

Corrupt city council employee imprisoned

Hemant Kumar Maharaj and Suresh Din were today sentenced in the Auckland District Court for corruptly obtaining public funds/ approximately $849,000 from the North Shore City Council.
 
Mr Maharaj received two years, 10 months' imprisonment and Mr Din received 10 months on home detention and 350 hours of community service following the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) prosecution.

SFO laid charges in September 2010 and the pair were found guilty at a trial in June.
Their offending occurred over a period of approximately 10 years while Mr Maharaj was working for the North Shore City Council. They formed an agreement to invoice the Council for road and berm maintenance work. However this work was never completed. They used 151 invoices in their scheme, with Mr Din submitting the invoices under the name of S Din Family Trust. After the invoices were submitted by Mr Din, Mr Maharaj would sign off the work as being completed and forward the invoice for payment.

Acting SFO Chief Executive, Simon McArley says, "SFO is committed to minimising the impact of corruption on our economy through investigation and prosecution of issues in both the public and private sectors. New Zealand has an enviable international reputation for low levels of corruption. This is invaluable to our economic interests and SFO prioritises cases such as this one so that we deter offending that may undermine that reputation."

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

Hemant Kumar Maharaj is a qualified civil engineer and was employed by the North Shore City Council since 1990 (subsequently dismissed).

Suresh Din is self-employed and on occasion did work for the North Shore City Council.

Mr Maharaj and Mr Din had been friends for some considerable time, meeting when both were living in Fiji before immigrating to New Zealand.

Crimes Act offences

Section 117 Corrupting juries and witnesses
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who-
(a) dissuades or attempts to dissuade a person, by threats, bribes, or other corrupt means, from giving evidence in any cause or matter (whether civil or criminal, and whether tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction); or
(b) influences or attempts to influence, by threats or bribes or other corrupt means, a member of a jury in his or her conduct as such (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction, and whether the member has been sworn as a member of a particular jury or not); or
(c) accepts any bribe or other corrupt consideration to abstain from giving evidence (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction); or
(d) accepts any bribe or other corrupt consideration on account of his or her conduct as a member of a jury (whether in a cause or matter tried or to be tried in New Zealand or in an overseas jurisdiction, and whether the member has been sworn as a member of a particular jury or not); or
(e) wilfully attempts in any other way to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand or the course of justice in an overseas jurisdiction.

Section 228 Dishonestly taking or using document
Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration,-
(a) dishonestly and without claim of right, takes or obtains any document; or
(b) dishonestly and without claim of right, uses or attempts to use any document.

Section 229 Being in possession of instrument for conversion
Pre-2003 amendments

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year who-
(a) Has in his possession by night any instrument, being an instrument capable of being used for taking or converting any of the things mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (d) of subsection (1) of section 228 of this Act, in circumstances that, prima facie, show an intention to use it for the taking or converting of any such thing as aforesaid:
(b) Has in his possession by day any such instrument as aforesaid with intent to take or convert any such thing as aforesaid.

(2) It is a defence to a charge under paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of this section if the person charged proves that he had lawful excuse for having the instrument in his possession.

About 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.

SFO's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. SFO's focus is on investigating and prosecuting criminal cases that will have a real effect on:

  • business and investor confidence in our financial markets and economy
  • public confidence in our justice system and public service
  • New Zealand's international business reputation.

SFO operates three investigative teams:

  • Evaluation and Intelligence;
  • Financial Markets and Corporate Fraud; and
  • Fraud and Corruption.

SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I 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 II 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..."

SFO's Annual Report 2012 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2013-2016 sets out the SFO's three year strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz