No charges in Far North District Council investigation

Published

No charges in Far North District Council investigation

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has completed an investigation into matters relating to the Far North District Council (FNDC).

Following an internal enquiry at FNDC, then newly-elected Mayor John Carter asked the SFO to investigate activities of concern between 2009 and 2013. The SFO launched an investigation in May 2014.

SFO Director, Julie Read has decided that there is insufficient evidence to commence a criminal prosecution for serious or complex fraud against any person.

"The investigation found evidence that both council members and employees apparently failed to comply with internal systems and controls designed to ensure that proper processes were followed in the approval of council projects and the expenditure of public money. However, these are failures of governance and procedure and no evidence of the intention required to commit a criminal offence was found."

The SFO thanks the FNDC for their cooperation in this matter.

ENDS

For further information

Andrea Linton
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

The SFO received a complaint from Employer Services Ltd on behalf of the Far North District Council in April 2014.

About the SFO

The 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's role is the detection, investigation and prosecution of serious or complex financial crime. The 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.

The SFO operates three operational teams; the Evaluation and Intelligence team along with two investigative teams.

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..."

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

  • the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
  • the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
  • the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
  • any relevant public interest considerations.


The SFO's Annual Report 2014 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2014-2018 sets out the SFO's strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at www.sfo.govt.nz