Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

SFO says quake approach has been effective

Former SFO head Adam Feeley said fraudulent activity around the Chch rebuild should be acted on quickly, rather than mopped up afterwards.
Former SFO head Adam Feeley said fraudulent activity around the Chch rebuild should be acted on quickly, rather than mopped up afterwards.

The Serious Fraud Office says the approach to fraud risks during the Christchurch rebuild has been effective, even though one of its own suggestions in this area did not get support.

A State Services Commission report released this week said that the SFO had identified and worked with others to consider and respond to the risks of fraud, bribery and corruption in the Christchurch rebuild.

"The SFO developed a business case but was unable to get system support for a more structured intelligence capability to analyse and respond to the risks acknowledged in the region," lead reviewer Debbie Francis said.

Asked for more details on this business case, SFO director Julie Read said it was submitted in early 2013 but that a different approach was ultimately taken.

"The SFO put up a proposal for a structured approach to dealing with intelligence in relation to fraud risks in the Christchurch rebuild in early 2013.

A different approach was decided upon which has ensured that elements of both private and public sectors communicate regularly about the risk of fraud in the rebuild as it progresses.

We consider that the approach to date has been effective and we, with our fellow agencies, will be alert to the need to adapt that approach should circumstances require a change to be made," Read said.

Francis said the Government's priority of detecting fraud early in the Canterbury earthquake recovery was "needing development".

However, while Government agencies should be very alert to the risks in large scale construction procurement, Francis said it was not the role of the SFO to take a proactive lead in this area.

High levels of fraud and corruption are not yet apparent but it is early in the rebuild and offshore experience suggests they will occur. It is incumbent on all agencies in the justice, economic security and trust in government sectors to be alert to these," Francis said in the report.


Read the full report here:

- NZ Herald

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