16 Jul 2013

DHB fraudster 'still owes millions'

10:10 pm on 16 July 2013

The former chairman of the Otago District Health Board says a man involved in defrauding the board still owes millions of dollars.

Michael Swann was jailed for nine years and six months in 2009 for stealing almost $17 million - the largest employee theft in New Zealand history and will be released from prison at the end of July after serving half his sentence.

The former DHB information technology manager and his friend, Kerry Harford, defrauded the board of $16.8 million over six years.

Richard Thomson, the DHB's former chairman, told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Tuesday that civl action to get some money back is still costing the board in legal fees.

"Swann has the ability to resolve that by simply agreeing to a discontinuance and, for whatever reason, he's chosen to not engage around that. So the board is forced to continue that kind of legal action."

Mr Thomson said the Crown has been able to recover what it can, but Swann still owes several million dollars and has shown no sign of regret.

"Look, it's no surprise that he's been released and we were kind of expecting that. But to me the issue is, you come up to your first parole hearing - what evidence is there that you've cooperated in trying to put right what you did wrong, what evidence is there that you're showing genuine remorse."

The Parole Board decided to release Michael Swann after four years and six months of his sentence, saying he poses a low risk of re-offending, had behaved well in prison and would not be an undue risk to community safety.

A condition of his release is that he is not to be involved, directly or indirectly, in financial management or the handling of other people's money.