Dunedin Citifleece car dealers identified

The Otago Daily Times has effectively identified the car dealers involved with Brent Bachop in fleecing Dunedin ratepayers (officially of $1.5 million but there have been claims the true amount of fraud could be $3 milliion or more) – Identify car yards – dealers.

And apart from the lawyer of one of these dealers trying to make excuses other dealers condemn what was going on and want to be distanced from the “smear” on all dealers.

Names were blacked out in the Deloitte report but the ODT has identified dealers who were investigated.

…the Otago Daily Times has confirmed transactions with Dunedin City Motors and the former dealership Anngow Motors were examined by Deloitte, and understands the former dealership Armstrong Mazda was also investigated.

Dunedin City Motors dealer principal Robert Bain has declined to comment about anything in Deloitte’s report into the fraud, as has Armstrong Motor Group general manager Muir Gold, who also declined to comment on whether Armstrong Mazda was one of the companies investigated.

Unlike other dealers they haven’t denied being investigated.

ODT reports show Anngow Motors was sold to Armstrong Mazda in 2007, and Armstrong Mazda was sold to Dunedin City Motors in 2009.

So there’s an ownership link between all three dealerships. The ODT gives transaction details.

Dealership 3: Bought four council vehicles between 2003 and 2006; council received some proceeds in three cases. Paid DCC directly for three cars, and Mr Bachop directly for the other, for which the proceeds never went to council.

Dealership 2:  Bought three council vehicles in 2008; council saw no proceeds from sales. Ownership of each transferred from DCC to Mr Bachop shortly before the sale. Allowed a council vehicle, bought from same dealer three months earlier, to be used as a trade-in for a personal vehicle bought by Mr Bachop.

Dealership 1: Bought seven DCC vehicles between 2006 and 2012; council received some proceeds from one sale. Ownership of five transferred from council to Brent Bachop shortly before dealership bought them. Dealer aware of that in three cases. Proceeds for other vehicles paid directly to Mr Bachop despite still being in council ownership.

It’s easy to deduce which dealership is probably which from the dates. And it’s easy to deduce that shady dealing was happening.

A lawyer for one dealer who bought seven vehicles from Mr Bachop between 2008 and 2012, told Deloitte it was ”not uncommon” for vehicles previously sold privately to remain registered in the name of the former owner, or be transferred shortly before a sale to the company when the vendor realised the registration had not been changed.

It should be not common for a city council fleet manager to sell cars to himself and then on sell then to a dealer. It sounds highly suspect.

Staff had no knowledge of any apparently unlawful activity by Mr Bachop, who at all times appeared to them to be a trusted employee of council, they said.

Obviously it’s a lawyer’s job to diminish the culpability of their client but it doesn’t look like “trusted employee” activities. A car dealer interviewed by the ODT has a different view.

”It would be completely abnormal for many people to buy a car and change their mind about it that quickly,” one said.

And a car dealership director recognises issues.

A former director of Anngow Motors, Geoffrey Anngow, has confirmed that Deloitte had examined the company’s transactions. Mr Anngow said he was not privy to the company’s dealings with Mr Bachop, which were always conducted by Anngow staff.

He had ”absolutely no idea” if anything untoward was going on, but if he had become aware of any of the behaviour suggested by Deloitte, he would have ”recognised that was not kosher”, he said

I think it was fairly obviously not kosher.

ODT interviewed a number of dealers, some of whom did not want to be seen to be associated with the Citifleecing, while others were keen to be named as not involved.

John Marsh, from Cooke Howlison, was keen to make it ”very clear” his company had no connection.

”We’ve had absolutely nothing to do with it.’

It was a smear on all the dealers in town until those involved were named, Mr Marsh said.

It would only be a smear if something shonkey was going on.

Others said they would want the person who owned a trade-in to sign the contract, as well as the person buying the new car.

”You need to check with the owner that the seller has authority to sell the vehicle. You have to be quite careful,” one said.

”We’re a small town. It’s shocking and there needs to be some accountability,” the dealer said, anonymously.

Accountability seems to be something the Dunedin City Council is trying to avoid. Why?

Another said there was no doubt Mr Bachop had done wrong, but it was ”a shame” all the blame was landing at Mr Bachop’s door when the necessary involvement of others was ”being swept under the carpet”.

Sadly mayor Dave Cull seems to give sweeping a higher priority than representing the interests of ratepayers.

Another hoped the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which regulates motor vehicle traders, and the Inland Revenue Department, would also investigate.

There appears to be serious misconduct by some dealers so I hope some MBIE action could be taken against them.

Dealers shouldn’t be fiddling their tax but the Deloitte report says that Bachop was sometimes paid in cash. This could be of interest to Inland Revenue.

Inland Revenue should also be interested in multiple cars sold to private individuals and family groups, who would appear to have been effectively dealing.

The one councillor tried to get Bachop investigated in 2011 and is still trying to get some accountability, Lee Vandervis, has been said by Cull to have “zero credibility”.

Dunedin City Councillor Lee Vandervis said he tried to blow the whistle on the scam years ago.

“Most of the issues in the Deloitte report had been known about for many years. Certainly as far back as 2011 and nothing was done about it.”

Councillor Jinty MacTavish, said to be close to Cull, posted on Facebook:

I’m glad this report has been released this year. I want to head into 2015 with this behind us, getting on with the job of continually improving our processes and doing our darndest to deliver good outcomes for our great wee city.

MacTavish and Cull should be doing their darndest to represent the interests of ratepayers, not trying to sweep this away with the closing year.

Releasing the Deloitte report right before Christmas is a classic sign of trying to bury bad news hoping people will have forgotten about it after the holidays.

The police report on it is due to be released early next year. That will only be as effective as the information supplied by the Council and whether the Council makes any complaints.

But Cull seems to have made up his own mind already. Radio NZ: Council under fire after fraud report

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the only employee involved in the fraud was Mr Bachop.

“Deloitte have concluded that there was no other staff member that benefited financially from the fraud,” he said.

“There were control failures and responsibilities but it was clear there was only one perpetrator in the council.”

That sounds like wilful sweeping under the carpet. I don’t know if anyone else in council was involved, but this doesn’t give me any confidence that it has been investigated properly.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike C

     /  24th December 2014

    Is Robert Bain related to David Bain?

    Reply

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