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Clement Case Must Go To Auditor-General

Clement Case Must Go To Auditor-General

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is so unconcerned about the flaws in Work and Income's audit procedures - which allowed Lisa Clement to defraud MSD of $1.9 million - that he has left me with no choice but to refer the matter to the Auditor-General, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"The details of Clement's case prompted me to write to Mr Maharey outlining serious concerns about his department's management and employment procedures, and asking for a response. Clement is due to be sentenced today, and the Minister is yet to acknowledge my letter," Dr Newman said.

"Lisa Clement committed the largest act of fraud in public service history. Taxpayers' money that should have gone to help those in genuine need of a hand-up was, instead, used to fund Clement's lavish lifestyle - a lifestyle that many taxpayers can only dream about.

"Yet - despite having ample opportunity to do so - Mr Maharey has not outlined how he will ensure this never happens again. Rather, he has made superficial statements about his department's supposed zero tolerance approach to fraud.

"But we've heard it all before. The Minister claims he has everything under control, and then something happens to show that he actually does not. His failure to respond to my letter - or to even acknowledge the concerns it outlines - shows he is not taking this issue seriously.

"Taxpayers deserve to know their money is being spent wisely. Clements actions have undermined the integrity of the entire welfare system, harming both taxpayers, and beneficiaries in need. In light of Mr Maharey's apparent indifference to this issue, I have no option but to refer the matter to the Auditor-General," Dr Newman said.

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