Trust investigates 'irregular payments' claim

By Derek Cheng

Among Winston Peters' claims were $360,662.90 paid to a bakery over two years for property maintenance. Photo / APN
Among Winston Peters' claims were $360,662.90 paid to a bakery over two years for property maintenance. Photo / APN

A taxpayer-funded South Auckland disability support provider which received $30 million last year is investigating its own accounts, after claims from New Zealand First leader Winston Peters of "irregular payments".

Te Roopu Taurima O Manukau Trust confirmed yesterday that its investigation had been ongoing for several months.

Among Mr Peters' claims were $360,662.90 paid to a bakery over two years for property maintenance, $250,000 to two firms unqualified to give financial advice and payments to a security systems company that does not exist.

Chief executive Malcolm Robson said the trust's employment investigation was looking into misuse of funding and confidential information. It is believed the suspected breaches are related.

"There is a proper employment process to follow and we will not be conducting this process publicly."

He said the issues were historical, some dating back to 2012. If the investigation found possible criminal actions, police would be brought in.

The Health Ministry undertook a financial review of the trust in March and a governance review this month, after concerns were raised last year.

"The reviews didn't raise any specific concerns about their financial practices, but the auditors identified there was a lack of expertise at board level," said Jill Lane, the ministry's national health board director.

The Taxpayers' Union called for changes to the Official Information Act to cover groups such as the trust.

"Unlike government agencies, these non-profit groups are not required to comply with the act. This means that too often, taxpayer money disappears into a void," union executive director Jordan Williams said.

Prime Minister John Key said he had not received any advice on the trust.

- APNZ

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