27 Sep 2016

Transport official given $1.1m in bribes, court told

6:55 pm on 27 September 2016

A former senior local government transport official accepted nearly $1.1 million in bribes from a private company he was involved in awarding roading contracts to, a court has been told.

Former Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport senior manager Murray Noone is on trial in the High Court in Auckland on six charges of accepting bribes from contracting firm Projenz.

Projenz director Stephen Borlase is also on trial, defending eight charges of bribery and corruption of a public official and four charges relating to inflated invoices.

Auckland Council's transport agency, Auckland Transport

Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Crown lawyer Brian Dickey told the court Mr Noone received regular payments, as well as $80,000 worth of gifts, from Projenz between 2006 and 2013.

He said Mr Noone submitted monthly invoices to Projenz for consultancy work and, although he was getting paid, there was no evidence that he did any such work.

The court was also told that through the inflated invoices Mr Borlase was sending to the Rodney District Council, the council was effectively paying for the bribery of its own officials.

Mr Dickey told the court that Mr Noone had some of his overseas travel and accommodation costs covered by Projenz, but these gifts were never declared as required by council rules.

Other council staff were also the beneficiaries of lavish dinners and other entertainment paid for by Projenz, he said.

Again, none of this was declared, he said.

Mr Dickey said the provision of extensive benefits to staff resulted in a culture where corruption flourished and was normalised, with no questions asked.

Projenz was awarded a number of significant contracts over the eight-year period the alleged offending took place, he said.

Mr Borlase and Mr Noone knew each other prior to Mr Noone taking up his role with the Rodney District Council, Mr Dickey said.

However, Mr Dickey said he never declared this conflict of interest, or his dealings with Mr Borlase.

The judge-alone trial, before Justice Fitzgerald, is expected to take seven weeks.