Auditor General resigns

I think it was the only option for Martin Matthews to resign.

RNZ: Auditor-General resigns over fraud investigation

Auditor-General Martin Matthews has resigned due to a critical report into his handling of a major fraud case when he led the Transport Ministry.

But the MPs who ordered that report are now refusing to release it to the public.

Mr Matthews was head of the Transport Ministry while a manager, Joanne Harrison, stole nearly three quarters of a million dollars over several years, despite staff repeatedly raising concerns.

He stepped aside temporarily from his subsequent role as Auditor-General while an inquiry was carried out into whether he was suitable to remain the country’s top public watchdog.

That investigation, by senior public servant Sir Maarten Wevers, began in May and was due to take two weeks, but was delayed.

Read the full official briefing on the report, released this afternoon,here.

Mr Matthews confirmed his resignation this afternoon, saying the “issues and speculation” about how he handled the fraud investigation made it “untenable” for him to continue on as Auditor-General.

“I deeply regret and apologise for the fraud that was committed,” he said in a written statement.

“I wished it had never happened but I accept I am accountable for everything done in and by the Ministry when I was CEO and I am ultimately responsible.

“I feel as angry and aggrieved as anyone about [Harrison’s] stealing and breaches of trust.”

Joanne Harrison was sentenced in February to three years seven months in prison for defrauding the Crown of $723,000.

separate inquiry by the State Services Commission last month found Harrison helped force whistleblowers out of their jobs too early after they raised concerns about her.

Background to the appalling fraud,  Matthews’ inaction and impact on whistleblowers:

The Spinoff:  Is fraudster Joanne Harrison’s old boss really fit to lead NZ’s top public watchdog?

Pete Kane has supplied these updates (audio):

Findings to stay ‘secret’. Don’t get it’
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201853471/auditor-gen-falls-on-sword-over-transport-ministry-fraudster

Update.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201853483/report-that-prompted-auditor-gen-to-resign-won-t-be-made-public

More background from RNZ:

8 Comments

  1. Pete Kane

     /  August 3, 2017

    Let’s not forget that there are ‘investigations’ ongoing regarding her time with Corrections (as an employee rather than her current guest status). Good project for Kelvin.

  2. Pete Kane

     /  August 3, 2017

    “Corrections auditing transport fraudster Joanne Harrison, after finding she worked there”
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/93126187/corrections-auditing-fraudster-joanne-harrison-too-after-finding-she-worked-there

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  August 3, 2017

    Heads should be rolling at the SSC for appointing Matthews AG with that history.

  4. Brown

     /  August 3, 2017

    I wonder where Matthews will pop up next? When you have made a mess of something big it would be usual in govts to be given something really huge to wreck.

  5. Patzcuaro

     /  August 4, 2017

    The question now is what are they hiding by not releasing the report?