Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

Airport worker sentenced for $1.8m fraud

Teremoana Kimiangatau, former Auckland Airport accounts clerk, transferred funds from the company's bank account to her own account. Photo / Greg Bowker
Teremoana Kimiangatau, former Auckland Airport accounts clerk, transferred funds from the company's bank account to her own account. Photo / Greg Bowker

A woman who defrauded Auckland Airport of $1.8 million has been sent to prison for three years and two months.

Teremoana Kimiangatau, 54, was sentenced today at the Manukau District Court after earlier pleading guilty on all three charges of "obtaining by deception", laid by the Serious Fraud Office [SFO].

The former airport accounts clerk, of 18 years, had transferred funds from the company's bank account to her own account.

She did this by changing the client bank account numbers to her own within the airport's accounting system.

After the offending was uncovered, Kimiangatau repaid all of the money except for a shortfall of about $200,000.

Today, Crown prosecutor Gareth Kayes submitted a starting point of six to seven years imprisonment was appropriate with discounts given for the mitigating factors of the voluntary repayment, along with her previous good character and evident remorse.

However, it was offending that was premeditated, repetitive over three and a half years, involved an abuse of trust and caused significant loss to Auckland Airport.

Kimiangatau's lawyer, Peter Winter, said after a long period with the company, the offending began when her family suffered financial blows in 2012.

Her husband, an aircraft engineer tradesman, had his job advertised five times and was forced to reapply for it four times.

This caused the family to suffer depression and stress.

"Inexcusably, she started taking money from the company," Winter told the court.

Kimiangatau saw how easy the company recovered from losses due to "double-counting" which gave her confidence in her offending, Winter said.

According to the summary of facts, read to the court by Judge John Bergseng, Kimiangatau, who was responsible for arranging payment to Auckland Airport suppliers, on 34 occasions used her specialized knowledge to access the system.

She did this by putting her bank account details into invoices after they'd been approved, duplicating accounts and diverting refund payments into her own account.

This took place over more than three years from May 9 2012 to September 26, 2013 and she used the a home, cars, holidays, repaying debts and other life expenses.

However, when the fraud was uncovered, Kimiangatau admitted the offending and set about repaying the money through selling her house, using her superannuation and her savings.

Winter told the court Kimiangatau and her family were now in a significantly worse position than before the offending and had significant remorse, shown through her voluntary repayment.

He submitted a starting point of 4.5 to 5.5 years was appropriate with discounts for the mitigating factors.

Judge Bergseng said Kimiangatau's fraud involved a "relatively high degree of sophistication" and the motivated was "lifestyle-related".​

"You were wanting to be in a position whereby you were back in your own home and your were able to sue the money to fund your own lifestyle."

While there was no victim impact statement, Judge Bergseng said Auckland Airport suffered a significant loss of the $200,000 which hadn't been repaid as well as damage to its reputation.

He gave a starting point of six years in prison, with discounts given for her guilty plea, remorse and previous good character landing at a final sentence of three years, two months.

SFO director Julie Read said this morning:

"After many years of honest employment, Mrs Kimiangatau let both herself and her employer down by committing this crime. In a position to see weaknesses in the system, she chose to take advantage of them rather than to see that they were remedied. There is no excuse for that. All employees have a responsibility to ensure that processes are thorough and adhered to."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 26 Feb 2017 10:10:32 Processing Time: 814ms