A former Powernet employee who is believed to have fraudulently stolen $440,000 by double-dipping from the company, has had his assets frozen.
Powernet is suing Joshua Grant Arthur in the Invercargill High Court in relation to the money he is alleged to have taken.
Affidavits received by the court say Joshua Grant Arthur was a project manager with the company when the alleged fraud took place.
A decision released by Justice Rachel Dunningham last week said Arthur was undertaking pre and post-earthing inspections, which he was expected to carry out as part of his duties as an employee.
However, through Arthur's company Applied Intelligence Ltd (AIL) (trading as Structural Innovations), he was also invoicing this work to Te Anau Earthworks Ltd (TEW) who was undertaking civil contracting work for Powernet.
Arthur then signed off the TEW invoices under his financial authority.
Powernet then paid TEW for the invoices rendered which, unknown to Powernet, included invoices from AIL.
Arthur expressly asked TEW not to include reference to Structural Innovations on the invoices TEW rendered to Powernet, the decision says.
"The affidavits also disclose that Mr Arthur had discussed with Powernet the possibility of doing work for it through a separate entity, but Powernet's evidence is that proposal was considered contrary to Powernet's code of conduct and its conflict of interest policy and was never proceeded with.''
The reason Powernet sought a freezing order was to prevent Arthur's assets from being sold and to prevent him from disposing of, dealing or diminishing the value of them.
These included real estate jointly owned with Arthur's wife, who also has an interest in AIL, another property owned by Arthur and others, as well as various motor vehicles and other chattels.
In her decision, Justice Dunningham says a number of Arthur's assets could be easily sold, hidden or disposed of and she accepted given the allegations of covert and deceitful behaviour, the risk of assets being sold or hidden was heightened.
"I also noted ... that Mr Arthur has worked overseas in the past. This adds to the overall picture that there is a risk of assets being cashed up and taken overseas or otherwise dissipated, particularly given the size of the claim against the defendants."
Justice Dunningham says the freezing order would be in place until a telephone conference on April 11 and will have no effect after that date unless it is continued or renewed on that date.
- Karen Pasco, Public Interest Journalism Fund court reporter