Panuku cleared of fraud but concerns remain over trip

7:24 pm on 18 July 2019

Auckland Council development agency has been cleared of fraud following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Auckland c

Photo: 123RF

The SFO said it did have concerns about a potential perceived conflict of interest for the council-controlled organisation's chief executive.

Mayoral hopeful John Tamihere had complained to the SFO over the sale of the Auckland Council civic administration block by Panuku.

He had lashed out at the organisation at a public meeting last September saying it was corrupt, and focused on accommodating the rich while keeping the poor out of decent housing.

After looking into it, the SFO found there was no need for a formal inquiry.

It said it was satisfied there was no reason to suspect fraud, corruption or bribery on the part of Panuku in the sale of the block.

However, it said there were concerns about chief executive Roger MacDonald accepting an invitation to go sailing with Tawera Group chair Mike Mahoney in January 2017. The potential issue was because the civic administration block was bought by a company owned by Tawera Group's chief financial officer John Love.

In its decision the SFO said accepting an invitation to go sailing was ill-advised but noted the percieved conflict in this case did not warrant a formal investigation.

Panuku board chair Adrienne Young-Cooper said its gift and hospitality policies would now all be reviewed in line with the SFO's request to do so.

"Mr MacDonald was operating under a set of hospitality and gift policies, at the time he sought the right approvals and got them," she said.

"Today the board accepts [the SFO's] concerns and that we should acutally review our gift and hospitality policies."

Panuku was established in 2015 after Auckland Council Property and Waterfront Auckland merged.