Further details of an alleged $16.9 million fraud at the Otago District Health Board were revealed in Parliament yesterday.
National MP Tony Ryall questioned Health Minister Pete Hodgson about the case, which saw the board's former IT manager Michael Swann sacked for "gross mismanagement" in October. The Serious Fraud Office is investigating.
Mr Ryall told Parliament the alleged fraud involved contracts with a single company over five years, "supposedly" for computer maintenance and software licence agreements, which were not tendered.
Mr Hodgson said five years "might actually be short of the mark".
"A number of the matters are likely to be dealt with in court in both civil and criminal contexts and as a result I cannot comment on them as freely as I might otherwise."
However, he noted some of the facts Mr Ryall had presented were correct and the case had been publicised well before now.
Mr Ryall told Parliament that Swann had bought a 50m former marine research vessel in Hawaii and refitted it to be a luxury launch.
The Otago Daily Times recently reported that the board was seeking to recover its losses through a High Court civil claim, which names Swann and 19 other defendants and lawyers, trustees, company directors and companies.
The health board already has a High Court order to stop sales of Swann's assets or assets in which he may have an interest.
Mr Ryall said the assets included 30 vehicles - mostly luxury cars - boats, properties in Wanaka, a house in Dunedin valued at $1.1 million and a property in Central Otago.
"Is he [Mr Hodgson] telling the house that no one at the DHB asked how a former bankrupt and hospital manager on $200,000 a year could afford such extravagance over such a period of time?"
Mr Hodgson responded: "I will not confirm that no one ever asked questions in earlier years and I will not reveal because it's not in the public interest at this stage what questions were asked, in what year by what person."
Mr Hodgson said other health boards knew about the case.
"I cannot give an assurance that there are no issues of fraud elsewhere in the health sector."