Auckland businessman Alex Swney has admitted a new charge, taking his total amount obtained through fraud to more than $4 million.
The 57-year-old former Heart of the City boss appeared in Auckland District Court this afternoon on a new representative charge laid by the Serious Fraud Office today.
Court documents show he dishonestly used false invoices to obtain $2,527,005 from the company between February 2004 and October 2014.
The charge carries a maximum prison term of seven years.
Swney is set to be sentenced on IRD-laid charges next week and a judge previously told him jail was the inevitable outcome.
His lawyer Murray Gibson acknowledged that in court today and asked that his client be sentenced on both matters on the same date.
In January, the former mayoral candidate pleaded guilty to four representative charges covering 12 years of offending and $1,757,147 of unpaid taxes.
Heart of the City - a city-centre business association registered by Swney in 1994 - has income-tax exemption on the basis that it was created to develop or increase amenities for the Auckland public.
But technically the defendant was a contractor of the organisation as the sole director of AGS Services Ltd and the services he provided were taxable.
The IRD charges come with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $50,000, and almost from the outset, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it was also investigating Swney.
A summary of facts filed by the IRD alleged Swney had issued "various fictitious invoices" to Heart of the City.
Investigators questioned several organisations - including The New Zealand Herald - over the authenticity of the invoices and determined they were created "without authorisation".
Swney is also facing civil action launched by Heart of the City, whose board announced the move in December after forensic accountants scoured their finances.
Both parties opposed applications to view documents.
Today, Judge David Sharp also declined NZME. News Service access to the summary of facts on which Swney will be sentenced next week.
The prosecution was neutral to the defendant's application for bail and it was granted by the judge.
Swney previously surrendered his passport pending his sentencing.
The SFO said Swney's actions had caused lasting problems for Heart of the City and reflected poorly on the country.
"Mr Swney dishonestly obtained funds to which he knew he was not entitled. The misappropriation of funding intended to benefit Auckland businesses increased the cost of the services provided by Heart of the City and reduced the benefits delivered by what has otherwise been a very successful venture," SFO director Julie Read said.
"Fraud of this size by employees who are entrusted with the management and expenditure of substantial sums of money is very costly for both the businesses concerned and more broadly for the community as it harms the integrity of these organisations.
"In bringing this prosecution the SFO is helping to protect the reputation of New Zealand as safe place in which to do business and invest."
Heart of the City welcomed Swney's admission of guilt and said it marked an important step in restoring the public's faith in the organisation.
Board chair Terry Gould said the sentencing would bring a sense of closure on "a matter that had shocked and angered the community, our members and our staff".
He said the efforts to recover the funds were ongoing.
"What the guilty plea does do is to draw a line under this wrongdoing and allows us to move forward in our work," Mr Gould said.
"I have always said that Heart of the City is bigger than one man and I think our organisation's performance during the past seven months demonstrates that."