An Auckland man charged by the Serious Fraud Office of trying to bribe an Auckland Council employee has been found not guilty.
Johnson Yuejun Li, 48, was charged with one count of corruption and bribery of an official. The SFO alleged he offered a $1000 cash bribe with the intention to influence an Auckland Council planner in November 2013 when he was seeking consent for an application to subdivide a Hillsborough property.
The matter was referred to the SFO.
The council employee promptly reported the alleged attempted bribe in accordance with the council's protocol and although the sum involved was not overly significant, the offence of attempted bribery was the primary concern, the SFO said in March.
"The staff member involved in this case did absolutely the right thing in reporting this to her manager, who took immediate action and followed all the appropriate steps," said Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton.
"We also support the SFO's approach on these matters, and today's court decision changes nothing when it comes to policies and procedures in place at the council to stop any form of bribery.
"Staff remain alert and aware of their responsibility to report anything that could be perceived to be a bribe."
He said Auckland Council was committed to keeping New Zealand's public sector one of the least corrupt in the world and staff were thoroughly trained on what to do in these circumstances.
Commenting today after the verdict was handed down, SFO director Julie Read said: "The SFO's role as lead investigating agency in relation to corruption and bribery matters is to protect New Zealand's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business. The only way New Zealand will retain its good reputation is to bring matters to our attention if employees are concerned about possible unethical practices. The SFO will present it to the Court to decide."