5 May 2020

Woman sentenced after receiving $150k in covert commissions

7:41 pm on 5 May 2020

A woman who received $150,000 in secret commissions while employed at a tertiary college has been sentenced to nine months home detention.

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Katherine Tuhakaraina was sentenced at Tauranga District Court yesterday after earlier pleading guilty to one representative charge of receiving secret rewards for procuring contracts.

The 60-year-old was working for Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi when she received kickbacks from Koa Consultants, which delivered a course there.

Serious Fraud Office director Julie Reed said Tuhakaraina had recommended the consultants to her employer, who had no knowledge of the commissions.

"Corruption is a priority for the SFO. It disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society, and in this case, undermined the good work of the wānanga and its dedicated employees," Reed said.

"Tuhakaraina deceived her employer to obtain funds provided to the education sector from the Crown. Her offending was criminal, corrupt and a gross breach of trust."

She was employed as a programme co-ordinator at the wānanga from 2009 to 2014 and her role included recommending contractors.