15 Feb 2011

Former ACC manager admits corruption charges

10:16 pm on 15 February 2011

A former property manager for the Accident Compensation Corporation has admitted taking cash and gifts in return for information and other favours he did for people he met through his job.

Malcolm Mason, 50, appeared in the Wellington District Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to three charges of bribery and corruption.

The prosecution was brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

The court was told Mason was paid $160,000 in 2009 after he arranged for ACC to rent premises in Whangarei from a person known to him.

Mason also received a trip to the Singapore Grand Prix, including flights and accommodation, worth $9000. He had recommended that ACC lease space in a Wellington building owned by someone he knew.

The third charge related to an e-mail Mason sent to a security contractor listing government department security officer contact details, which was of personal benefit to the contractor.

Mason will be sentenced in March.

Further charges could be laid - SFO

The Serious Fraud Office says further charges could be laid in a corruption case involving Mason, but suppression orders make it difficult to comment in detail on what the other charges are and who they could be against.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley told Checkpoint on Tuesday it was a criminal offence for Mason to accept and then hide the free trip from his employer.

"There is often a difference between whether you can appropriately give hospitality and receive it, and this was an occasion where to receive it was certainly inappropriate."

Mr Feeley says corruption cases like this are rare in New Zealand, but that does not mean authorities should be complacent in their vigilance.

ACC Minister Nick Smith on Tuesday congratulated the SFO on the successful conviction.

Dr Smith says he is satisfied that when the internal audits of ACC found inappropriate behaviour, the corporation managed it properly.

He says it is an extremely serious matter when a public servant entrusted with public money acting without integrity.