Call for mayor to be investigated

By Imran Ali

1 comment

A former Far North District councillor has asked the Auditor General to investigate what he calls "fraudulent and corrupt practices" by the district's Mayor Wayne Brown.

Johnson Davis alleged that Mr Brown used his position as mayor to promote his own business interests when he requested his council for $3000 to travel to Canada for a mining conference, and has asked the Auditor General to look into the matter.

Mr Brown hit back yesterday, saying the council had decided not to fund the trip.

"I've asked the council in a totally open way. They [council] will have to first agree to my request before complaints can be made," he said.

Councillors last week rejected the request, but not after being torn between wanting to send the best-qualified person, promoting investment in the North and avoiding a conflict of interest, especially as Mr Brown recently set up a prospecting company, Tai Tokerau Minerals, in which he has a 5 per cent stake.

It was revealed Mr Brown had printed a business card, via the council, for the conference that contained his private details.

Mr Davis said business cards issued by the council to staff and councillors strictly controlled what information they should contain.

He questioned whether the mayor's request for funding should have even been on the council agenda because having an interest in Tai Tokerau Mining, he said Mr Brown had a clear conflict of interest.

"I believe also that the staff member who wrote the report to council also needs to be held to account as it is my understanding that staff are required to point out any breach or potential breach of the law, council's policies, standing orders, protocols and code of conduct," Mr Davis said.

He said there was no mention of the council's Standing Orders in the report to councillors for the meeting.

Mr Davis said if Mr Brown distributed what purported to be the council's business card, all correspondence would be directly to him with no record registered with the council.

"I also noted that at the time this matter came up for resolution, the mayor did not immediately vacate the chair but commenced to give an estimated 10-15 minute dissertation on the mining issue, his role etc," Mr Davis said.

He questioned that if Mr Brown's attendance at the conference was in the best interests of the ratepayers, why was the publicly-owned Far North Holdings not a shareholder in Tai Tokerau Minerals.

- Northern Advocate

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