Police are attempting to seize nearly $9 million in assets from a roading contractor - including a Coromandel bach and classic cars - they believe were accumulated as the result of bribery and corruption.
Assets of Stephen Borlase, a roading contractor found guilty on eight counts of bribery and sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison earlier this year, have been targeted by the Commissioner of Police using the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.
After an seven-week trial last year, Borlase was found to have paid more than $1m to officials at Auckland Transport and the Rodney District Council who proceeded to award his firm Projenz tens of millions of dollars in public contracts.
Justice Geoffrey Venning at the High Court at Auckland issued a without-notice restraint order on September 19 against assets held by Borlase, his wife, Projenz and the Borlase Civil trust.
"Bank accounts can be readily transferred and cars relocated and hidden ... The dishonest nature of Borlase's offending supports the orders being made without notice," Venning said in granting the order.
A police statement yesterday provided more details, saying $8.6m of assets had been covered by the order included a property in Mt Eden, a commercial property and beach house in the Coromandel and the contents of bank accounts.
Several motor vehicles - including a 2015 Mercedes, a Jeep Cherokee and a classic Ford Fairlane - were also caught up in the dragnet.
Detective senior sergeant Chris Allan of the Northern Asset Recovery Unit said in the statement: "Material benefits that have been derived from a corrupt relationship are 'proceeds of crime', plain and simple."
Allan said the Police Commissioner would look to take away the unlawful benefits from people involved in significant criminal activity.
The conviction of Borlase, and former council senior manager Murray Noone and his deputy Barry George, shook the New Zealand public service. The Herald revealed earlier this year five other individuals left their jobs after the council began investigating kickbacks from contractors.
During sentencing in February Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey stressed the seriousness of the case: "This isn't shoplifting, this isn't misappropriation.
"This is offending that goes to the heart of New Zealand's public service and its ethics."
The trial of Borlase and Noone - George pleaded guilty on the eve of trial - canvassed a network of transactions that saw Borlase's firm Projenz pay more than $1m to council staff.
In turn the company saw a rapid expansion of its council contracts that pushed initially modest revenues into the tens of millions.
The court heard evidence of a culture of largesse in the council's roading division, as Projenz laid on long lunches for staff - including an eight-hour affair at upmarket eatery Euro that cost $5500.
Council staff - including Noone, Borlase and others - were also treated by Projenz to gifts of international holidays, fine wines and whiskies and electronics worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.