Leader charged with fraud named

The land to be developed was near Parliament. Photo / File
The land to be developed was near Parliament. Photo / File

A Maori leader charged with accepting bribes can be named for the first time today after a three-year name suppression order was lifted.

Sir Ralph Heberley Ngatata Love, 78, his partner Lorraine Skiffington, 58, and Love's son Matene Love, 54, were investigated by the Serious Fraud Office in 2012 for taking bribes to favour a developer for the land and assets owned by the Wellington Tenths Trust.

Love is accused of taking two payments equalling $1.5 million in 2006 and 2007 in exchange for favouring Auckland property developer, Redwood Group, which wanted to develop Tenths Trust land near Parliament, reports Fairfax.

The payments were made through a company owned by Skiffington.

The Wellington Tenths Trust was established to administer 81ha of Maori Reserve lands, mostly in urban Wellington.Love, who was made a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Maori in 2008, was the chairman and a trustee of the Tenths Trust.

Skiffington is a lawyer and previously held senior advisory roles in central government.

Matene had some degree of association with the Tenths Trust.

They were charged in July 2013.

Love faces one Crimes Act charge of obtaining by deception and one charge under Section 4 of the Secret Commissions Act for allegedly accepting a bribe.

His trial continues in the Wellington High Court this week.

The charges against Skiffington were permanently stayed in August last year because of her health.

Love's son Matene pleaded guilty to one charge under Section 4 of the Secret Commissions Act on September 21 last year.

The former Junior All Black was sentenced to six months' home detention.

Matene arranged for Redwood Group to pay him $168,750 to enable the developer to undertake the property development for the Tenths Trust.

Matene represented that he was acting as an agent of the Tenths Trust. Love is represented by Colin Carruthers QC, and Grant Burston is appearing for the Crown.

The judge-alone trial before Justice Graham Lang is continuing.

- NZ Herald

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