Two women charged with defrauding taxpayer-funded charity

Published

Two former employees of a charity that offered domestic violence prevention services for Pacific Islanders have been charged by the Serious Fraud Office.

Tapualii Raewyn Uitime (47) and Betty Leuina Sio (54), both of Auckland, entered no plea when they appeared at the Manukau District Court today.

Ms Uitime, who was the operations manager at the now defunct Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project (the Project), faces 26 charges of ‘Dishonestly using a document’ and 11 charges of ‘Forgery’. Ms Sio, who was the charity’s chief executive, faces four charges of ‘Dishonestly using a document’.

The Auckland-based organisation received funding from the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Corrections. It offered a range of social support services including a Pacific cultural framework for addressing family violence, family violence education and domestic violence prevention programmes for men.

Ms Uitime and Ms Sio have been remanded on bail to reappear at the Manukau District Court on 30 October.

ENDS

Issued by

Henry Acland
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550

Note to editors

Background to investigation

From June 2008 to March 2018, the Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project (the Project) was a registered charity.

The Project described itself as a community development social service that integrated cultural practices to enhance the wellbeing of communities. The charity offered a range of social support services including family support, counselling, family violence education, domestic violence prevention programmes for men and a Pacific cultural framework for addressing family violence.

By 30 June 2014, the Project was receiving government funding of about $2.5 million per annum to provide domestic violence prevention services to the Pacific Island community, mostly in the Auckland region. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Justice, and the Department of Corrections.

Crimes Act offences

228 Dishonestly taking or using document

(1) 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.

(2) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any document knowing that—

(a) the document was, dishonestly and without claim of right, taken, obtained, or used; and

(b) the document was dealt with in the manner specified in paragraph (a) with intent to obtain any property, service, pecuniary advantage, or valuable consideration.

256 Forgery

(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years who makes a false document with the intention of using it to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration.

(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who makes a false document, knowing it to be false, with the intent that it in any way be used or acted upon, whether in New Zealand or elsewhere, as genuine.

(3) Forgery is complete as soon as the document is made with the intent described in subsection (1) or with the knowledge and intent described in subsection (2).

(4) Forgery is complete even though the false document may be incomplete, or may not purport to be such a document as would be binding or sufficient in law, if it is so made and is such as to indicate that it was intended to be acted upon as genuine.

(5) Every person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, without reasonable excuse, sells, transfers, or otherwise makes available any false document knowing it to be false and to have been made with the intention that it be used or acted on (in New Zealand or elsewhere) as genuine.

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 2017 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

The SFO Twitter feed is @SFO_NZ