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Minister receives UN Housing Allowance report

21 August 2008

Defence Minister receives UN Housing Allowance report

Defence Minister Phil Goff has received the final report from the Chief of Defence Force on inconsistencies over UN housing allowance claims by seconded NZDF personnel in New York.

"The Chief of Defence Force has now reported to me on the issue of housing allowances paid to four officers seconded to the UN," Phil Goff said.

"I am pleased that the Court of Inquiry has confirmed that there was no evidence at all of 'double-dipping' of allowances, no corrupt behaviour and no actions which resulted in improper personal gain.

"However, clearly the supplementary allowances were paid in breach of UN rules and senior officers filled out UN forms indicating they were not in receipt of a housing allowance from New Zealand when they were.

"Notwithstanding that other countries' secondees may have done this and that the senior officers might have thought that this was required of them as a matter of administrative convenience, that was not acceptable behaviour.

"Nor is it acceptable that when the clash between New Zealand and UN requirements came to the attention of the New Zealand Defence Force, its personnel administrators did not address and resolve this problem. That was an institutional failure.

"I welcome the work done by the Court of Inquiry and the Chief of Defence Force's actions to deal with the problems transparently and to move to resolve them. I am advised by the Chief of Defence Force that the sum of money claimed incorrectly will be paid in full to the UN.

"However to ensure full transparency and an independent assessment of the shortcomings exposed by the Court of Inquiry, I have asked the Auditor General to review the Court's findings. In particular, I have asked him to report to me on the cause of and actions necessary to address the institutional failure revealed by the Court. I have also asked him to report on whether he deems that any person encouraged or condoned others involved in making a false declaration to the United Nations.

"Because of the independence of the Auditor General, I believe this will add further confidence on the part of the public that this matter has been fully and appropriately addressed," Mr Goff said.

The report of the Court of Inquiry will be released by the Chief of Defence Force.

ENDS

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