A former senior Auckland Transport official accused of taking more than $1 million in bribes has lost a bid in the North Shore District Court for interim name suppression to continue past next week.
Judge Pippa Sinclair yesterday rejected submissions that the man and his partner would suffer extreme hardship from publication of his name and said there was significant public interest in the case, given that he faced six serious charges of corruptly receiving "a "considerable sum" of money in his previous capacity as a public official.
"It is alleged by the Serious Fraud Office that between April 2008 and July 2013, [the defendant] accepted bribes of more than $1 million in payments, travel, accommodation and other benefits..." she said.
However she extended name suppression until 4pm on Tuesday after the man's lawyer, Paul Wicks QC, indicated an intention to lodge an appeal in the High Court against her decision.
If an appeal is filed by then, he will not be able to be named until that is dealt with.
The judge meanwhile remanded the man and two co-defendants, who didn't seek name suppression, at large until early next month, after SFO lawyer Brian Dickey told her the overall case against them was "highly likely" to be transferred to the High Court.
Mr Dickey said that was under a protocol covering the "class one" nature of the bribery charges against the trio, who have not raised objections to such a move.
All three entered not guilty pleas before what was to have been a case review hearing at the district court yesterday. Fellow former Auckland Transport staffer Barrie Kenneth James George, 68, faces four charges of accepting bribes in his previous roles as a road maintenance contract manager with that organisation and as infrastructure manager with the old Rodney District Council before the Super City amalgamation in 2010.
Both officials are accused of receiving the bribes from engineering project management company Projenz (2005) Ltd.
Stephen James Borlase, 51, had stepped down temporarily as head of that company while facing eight charges of bribing the pair, and four of doctoring hours worked by Projenz subcontractors in invoices submitted to the previous Rodney council.
Mr Wicks referred in court yesterday to an affidavit from his client's current employer, stating that he would "inevitably" lose his job if his name were published. The lawyer said the man would be unable to meet mortgage payments on the house which he shares with his partner.
He said the man had difficulty finding work for seven months after resigning from Auckland Transport October 2013, when his name was published at the start of an SFO investigation.
He submitted that an affidavit provided by Auckland Transport in support of the SFO's bid to lift an interim name suppression order granted by the district court in April this year was incorrect in stating that the employer had any involvement with the council body.
Neither was his client a public official any longer.
"We are dealing with a relatively anonymous person..." Mr Wicks said.
Mr Dickey accepted that the defendant's employer had no existing involvement with Auckland Transport, but said a problem with continued name suppression was that the company might end up as a contractor without the public body realising he worked for it.
Judge Sinclair's ordered that evidence about the man's current employment and about that of his partner.