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Guilty plea to SFO Commercial Corruption Charges

Media Release
1 February 2013

Guilty plea to SFO Commercial Corruption Charges

Christopher David Green (66) today pleaded guilty in respect of offending under Section 4 of the Secret Commissions Act at the Auckland District Court.
Mr Green was formerly employed as a Commercial Property Manager where his role included ensuring the portfolio of premises that his employer occupied around New Zealand, were appropriately insured.

Herbert Insurance Group (HIG) acted as an insurance intermediary for insurers and also provided an insurance brokering service to insured clients. Mr Green’s employer was a client of HIG.

Between 2003 and 2010, Mr Green corruptly received and retained secret commissions totalling approximately $142,000 for referring insurance business to HIG. His employer was consequently over-charged by a sum of approximately $220,000 for that insurance.

Acting SFO Chief Executive, Simon McArley, says, “Everyone is a loser when commercial corruption, in the form of kick-backs, occurs. It distorts the market causing otherwise competitive companies to lose business and results in higher prices for consumers. Our levels of corruption are seen to be relatively low in New Zealand, but there is still further work to be done to stamp out what is an insidious practice.”

Note to editors

Background to investigation
Christopher David Green was the former Commercial Property Manager at Bunnings Warehouse Limited (Bunnings); the Australian based home improvement supply company. Mr Green’s role included procuring insurance for the portfolio of premises that Bunnings occupied around New Zealand.
HIG provided an insurance brokering service to insured clients.
Secret Commissions Act offences
Section 4: Acceptance of such gifts by agent an offence
(1) Every agent is guilty of an offence who corruptly accepts or obtains, or agrees or offers to accept or attempts to obtain, or solicits from any person, for himself or for any other person, any gift or other consideration as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do, or for having done or forborne to do, any act in relation to the principal's affairs or business (whether such act is within the scope of the agent's authority or the course of his employment as agent or not), or for showing or having shown favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the principal's affairs or business.
(2) Every agent who diverts, obstructs, or interferes with the proper course of the affairs or business of his principal, or fails to use due diligence in the prosecution of such affairs or business, with intent to obtain for himself or for any other person any gift or other consideration from any person interested in such affairs or business, shall be deemed to have corruptly solicited a consideration within the meaning of this section.

Role of the SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Act in response to the collapse of financial markets in New Zealand at that time.

The SFO operates three investigative teams:

• Evaluation & Intelligence;
• Financial Markets & Corporate Fraud; and
• Fraud & Corruption.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part I 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 II 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…”

The SFO’s Annual Report 2012 sets out its achievements for the past year, while the Statement of Intent 2012-2015 sets out the SFO’s three year strategic goals and performance standards. Both are available online at: www.sfo.govt.nz


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