Serious Fraud Office focus on Christchurch

9:55 pm on 21 March 2013

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) says it has measures in place to address allegations of fraud and corruption occurring as part of the Christchurch rebuild.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has claimed in Parliament that some contractors have acted fraudulently and he cited incidents where jobs had not been completed but invoices were submitted.

Mr Peters told the House that, in one case, a building company submitted invoices to the Earthquake Commission for ceiling and other internal work and for scaffolding that did not exist.

Mr Brownlee invited the New Zealand First leader to provide him with the details and acknowledges there is potential for fraud to occur in the Christchurch rebuild.

SFO acting chief executive Simon McArley says his agency is working with police, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and other agencies with key roles in Christchurch.

He says two investigations relating to the Christchurch rebuild are progressing well.

Meanwhile, Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee says he has instructed key agencies to enforce prosecutions.

Head of forensics at accounting firm KPMG, Steven Bell, says natural disasters provide ripe grounds for fraudulent activity.

Mr Bell says the experience of disasters like Hurricane Katrina produced large amounts of price gouging, contractor and vendor fraud and property and insurance fraud.