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Allegations over councillors' conflicts of interest need investigation

"Allegations made by the Herald on Sunday (17/10/06 and 10/12/06) over Action Hobson councillors failing to disclose several conflicts of interest are alarming,” said Aaron Bhatnagar, Deputy Chairman of Hobson Citizens and Ratepayers Now.

"Crs Richard Simpson and Christine Caughey should have declared conflicts of interest or sought advice from the CEO of Auckland City prior to voting $600,000 to Beacon Pathway. They were close to both the General Manager and the Company through the Digital Earth conference," said Mr Bhatnagar. Beacon Pathway later gave money to Digital Earth, confirming this closeness.

"These councillors also should have declared conflicts of interest when arguing ratepayer money for Digital Earth while being members of the society organising the event” said Mr Bhatnagar.

“The Auditor-General's guidelines are crystal-clear. Even the appearance of bias should trigger the consideration of a declaration of a conflict of interest. The Auditor-General says ‘If you have any relationship with a person or organization involved in a matter, you should seriously consider the wisdom of whether to participate at all'," said Mr Bhatnagar.

"Ratepayers need assurance proper process was followed. It's simply not good enough politicians are alleged to not follow the rules properly when dealing with ratepayer money. That's why I wrote to David Rankin (Auckland City CEO) and the Auditor-General to ask them to investigate,” said Mr Bhatnagar.

ENDS


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