21 Apr 2010

Serious Fraud Office to probe ACC over possible fraud

7:02 am on 21 April 2010

The Serious Fraud Office is to investigate the Accident Compensation Corporation over possibly fraudulent property dealings stretching back several years.

ACC Minister Nick Smith says there are serious concerns about a number of transactions involving ACC offices around the country.

Dr Smith says the concerns relate to some long-serving ACC staff. One person has been sacked from the head office in Wellington for failing to follow policies and procedures.

The minister says the very high cost on the lease of the new ACC office in his own Nelson electorate first set the alarm bells ringing.

Dr Smith says the problems were uncovered after a review of ACC's lease arrangements and the purchasing of building services for ACC offices.

He says he does not have any specific information about the sums of money involved, except that a number of property transactions involving ACC provided less than good value for taxpayers.

Dr Smith says the main focus of the Serious Fraud Office investigation will be 12 offices that were newly opened or refitted in recent years.

ACC says it has passed on relevant information to the Serious Fraud Office and will await a decision as to whether a formal investigation is needed.