A businessman investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) property deals is a shareholder in a new government-funded project.

Although Gerald Gallagher resigned as a director of Renew Energy in August last year, he remains a 26 per cent shareholder in the company, which last week got a $350,000 grant to investigate the feasibility of a waste-to-energy plant on the West Coast.

The plant would burn rubbish from around the country to generate electricity.

Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the grant last week, as part of the Government's $1 billion provincial growth fund.


But Gallagher's involvement appeared to blindside Jones who didn't know his background, when questioned by Radio New Zealand.

Jones was now seeking urgent advice from officials.

"I don't want to say anything about the individual until I've taken a legal briefing, for fear of myself being embroiled in legal action," he told RNZ.

A top-level investigation last April found Gallagher and former Renew director Murray Cleverley tried to use their positions for their own financial gain.

Cleverley was the chair of the Canterbury and South District Health Board.

The State Services Commission report found Gallagher and his colleague had a clear conflict of interest when arranging Cera property deals through their own company and they were referred to the SFO.

Cleverley was cleared, although he was found to have exercised poor judgment by failing to declare his involvement. He has since resigned as chairman of the health board.

Gallagher was not keen to talk about the new project or the SFO referral, telling RNZ it was inappropriate for the broadcaster to ask about the matter at all.


He said the SFO never investigated him and that the situation has been resolved.

An SFO spokesperson said inquiries were continuing.