11 Apr 2017

Former CERA officials' actions referred to SFO

7:06 pm on 11 April 2017

An inquiry has found two former Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) officials tried to use their positions for their own financial gain.

Their actions have been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

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Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The report by Michael Heron QC on behalf of the State Services Commission found Gerard Gallagher and Simon Nikoloff had a clear conflict of interest when arranging property deals through their own company.

State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes said, based on the report, he would have recommended firing the two men if they still worked for CERA.

"I consider their actions to be serious misconduct that is unacceptable in the New Zealand Public Service," he said in a statement.

"I am unable to direct state sector employers when making employment decisions, however based on what I have seen in Mr Heron's report, if it were up to me I would not employ these individuals."

Mr Gallagher and Mr Nikoloff went on to work for Crown-owned company Ōtākaro but were stood down during the investigation.

The company said Mr Gallagher left his position on 7 March and Mr Nikoloff on 10 April.

A third man, Murray Cleverley, was found to have exercised poor judgement by failing to declare his involvement.

Mr Cleverley has today resigned from his position as chair of the Canterbury and South Canterbury District Health Boards.

"Mr Cleverley has given years of service to the people of Canterbury and South Canterbury in both roles," Mr Hughes said.

"I thank him most sincerely for his public service and the difference he has made.

"In doing this he has put the interests of both organisations first ... I respect both his decision and his motivation for making it."

Read the full public statement by the commission here.

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