Business identity faces charges

By COREY CHARLTON


Napier businessman Rodney Green is alleged to have misused more than $10,000 of a charitable grant to source 130 new chairs for his Bluewater Hotel restaurant, a court has been told.

Yesterday was the opening day of a hearing at the Napier District Court, in which Green faces charges of obtaining by deception and using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage.

In a prosecution brought by the Department of Internal Affairs, Green is alleged to have acquired 130 new chairs, valued at $94 each, from Big Save Furniture in early 2009. These were invoiced to another organisation, the name of which is suppressed.

The organisation's manager said yesterday he was under the impression they were purchasing second-hand chairs from Green but it was part of a trade-in deal with Big Save Furniture.

His organisation paid for the chairs with a grant from the Infinity Foundation.

In the witness box yesterday, the assistant manager of Big Save Furniture at the time said that after Green had picked out the model of chair he desired, an invoice was organised and made out to the Bluewater Hotel.

This was later changed at Green's request to be made out to the second organisation, with "attention" to its manager, she said.

"All I understood was that I needed to change the invoice details as per his request."

She said she did not ask any questions as to why there was a change.

There was no discussion of a trade-in deal that she could recall, and she had no contact with the other organisation or its manager.

The organisation's manager also gave evidence, saying the prospect of buying the second-hand chairs was raised by Green while he was having a beer at the Bluewater Sports Bar.

He expressed interest and took the proposition to the organisation's committee, which subsequently approved the purchase.

He used the quote from Big Save Furniture that was addressed to his organisation to apply for the Infinity Foundation grant, which in turn was paid to Big Save Furniture.

"My understanding and recollection was they were a trade-in with Big Save," he said. "That's how I understood it."

He said he had not noticed until several weeks later that the description of the chairs on the invoice did not match the second-hand chairs he had inspected at the Bluewater Hotel.

In contrast to evidence given by the assistant manager of Big Save Furniture, he claimed to have spoken with her up to three times. Both also claimed to have been the one to spot an error of $20 in the invoice total.

Mr Green's defence lawyer Paul Mabey suggested to the manager he may have assumed there was a trade in.

The hearing continues today.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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