Former Auckland Transport officials and the head of a project management firm face multiple corruption charges for alleged offences reaching back nine years.
The trio, who face allegations of bribery amounting to what the Serious Fraud Office says is more than $1 million in corrupt payments, were remanded without plea after making their first appearances in North Shore District Court yesterday.
One of the former officials was granted an extension of interim name suppression, but the other two defendants chose not to seek orders protecting their identities while waiting to reappear in court on May 18 to enter pleas.
Stephen James Borlase, 50, managing director of engineering services company Projenz (2005) Ltd, faces eight charges of bribing the officials while they worked variously for Auckland Transport and the former Rodney District Council.
He also faces four charges of using a document to obtain financial gain by allegedly over-stating hours worked by Projenz subcontractors in invoices to the Rodney council.
All charges are punishable by a maximum of seven years in jail if proven.
Borlase issued a statement outside court through a public relations firm saying he had instructed his lawyer Ron Mansfield not to apply for name suppression as he had "nothing to hide or be ashamed of."
"Not only do I deny the claims - I am completely confident that no inappropriate or unlawful payment has been made by my company," he said.
However, he said he had decided to step aside from the day-to-day running of the company to protect its reputation.
Auckland Transport's former northern roading maintenance contracts manager, Barrie Kenneth James George, 68, faces four charges of bribery for alleged offences since late 2005.
He declined to seek name suppression but would not comment outside court.
George, an engineer employed by the Rodney council from 1974 until its roading responsibilities were taken over by Auckland Transport in late 2010, is alleged to have received payments from Projenz of travel, accommodation and other benefits not only for himself but also for his family and colleagues in both public bodies.
He is also alleged to have accepted such benefits on behalf of colleagues' families as well as entertainment and hospitality for employees of both Auckland Transport and the Rodney council.
Borlase, who founded Projenz in 1997, said in his statement that the company's marketing budget had all been "lawful, open and fully accounted for."
"I consider it is normal business practice for a company to foster good relationships with clients and potential clients through marketing," he said.
"However, no marketing has ever included an express or implied insistence of any kick back or contract award -- I find this suggestion offensive."
An Auckland Transport spokesman said the organisation had no comment, given the case was before the court.
But the Serious Fraud Office's intervention in the case 18 months ago followed an internal investigation by forensic accountants called in by the council body.
The SFO, in a statement issued after yesterday's court appearances, alleged that "a culture was created within the road maintenance division where the acceptance of gratuities was part and parcel of the working environment."
"The SFO is committed to preventing corruption from taking root through investigating and prosecuting offending in the public or private sector," said its director, Julie Read.
"This is an important aspect of protecting New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business and to allow our economy to prosper."
Stephen James Borlase, head of engineering project firm Projenz (2005) Ltd - eight charges of bribery; four charges of using documents for financial gain.
Barrie Kenneth James George, former infrastructure manager at Rodney District Council and northern roading maintenance contracts manager at Auckland Transport -- four charges of accepting bribes.
Third defendant (with interim name suppression) - six charges of accepting bribes.