SFO closes investigation into Dr Nigel Murray
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has concluded its investigation into Dr Nigel Murray, the former CEO of the Waikato District Health Board (Waikato DHB).
SFO Director, Julie Read, has closed the investigation having determined that committing the additional very high level of resources required to prove criminal charges beyond reasonable doubt was not in the public interest. The furtherance of this investigation to obtain evidence sufficient to satisfy the criminal standard of proof would have required extensive investigations in Canada and the public interest did not warrant the expenditure required given the total quantum of the amounts allegedly obtained.
The SFO notes that Dr Murray’s conduct has already been subject to an employment investigation by the Waikato District Health Board in 2017, and an investigation commissioned by the State Services Commission (SSC) in 2018.
The SSC investigation found that Dr Murray’s conduct did not meet the minimum standards expected of him as a CEO in the State sector, and that more than half of his travel and accommodation expenses were unauthorised or unjustified. The matter was referred to the SFO to investigate whether there had been any wrongdoing of a criminal nature. The SFO concurs with the conclusions reached by the SSC about Dr Murray’s conduct.
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About the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
The presence of an agency dedicated to white-collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.
This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
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 2018 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.
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