Sentencing of pair sends message about public sector fraud
3 October 2013
Sentencing of pair sends clear message about public sector fraud
A former employee of the North Shore City Council, and his close friend, were sentenced today in relation to fraudulently obtaining approximately $145,000 from the council arising from unauthorised road maintenance contracts.
The offending took place between 1999 and 2009 and in most cases no road maintenance works were carried out, or where works were carried out, the value of the works were significantly less than the monies paid under the contracts.
The Serious Fraud Office prosecuted Hemant Kumar Maharaj, a former team leader at the North Shore City Council, and Suresh Din, alleging that approximately $829,000 had been defrauded. Due to the passage of time, the SFO was only able to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, fraud in the amount of $145,000, but the District Court accepted that the actual amount was likely to be significantly higher than that amount.
Judge Gibson sentenced Mr Maharaj to two years ten months imprisonment and Suresh Din, to 10 months home detention plus 350 hours community service. The higher penalty received by Mr Maharaj reflected the breach of trust he committed as a public servant, and his attempts to obstruct the course of justice during the Serious Fraud Office investigation.
James Hassall, Auckland Council Manager Litigation and Regulatory is pleased with the outcome of this prosecution.
“It sends a strong message to all Council officials that fraud will not be tolerated.”
“It also lets the community know that people who attempt to defraud the Council will be dealt with severely. The Auckland Council has strong systems in place to detect fraudulent activity at the earliest opportunity. The people of Auckland have the absolute right to be able to trust officials to properly manage public funds”.
The Auckland Council is vigorously pursuing the defendants through a civil claim in the High Court to seek full recovery of its costs and all monies through that process.