Dunedin City fraud

Otago Daily Times have combined information from a police investigation file released yesterday under an Official Information Act request and Deloitte’s full report (of their investigation) that was leaked to ODT last month.

Two escape Citifleet prosecution

A police report suggests Brent Bachop’s death and a right to silence may have helped two others escape prosecution following the Dunedin City Council’s $1.5 million Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation was launched last year after Deloitte found Mr Bachop, the former Citifleet team leader, to be at the centre of the decade-long fraud.

He was found to have sold 152 council vehicles, while pocketing proceeds, and police concluded in June there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone else in relation to the fraud.

But the police investigation file, released yesterday following an Official Information Act request, questions the actions of two other parties – a Dunedin car dealer and an unnamed woman – who were not charged.

There was evidence both parties had ”potential culpability”, one for receiving stolen goods and the other for conversion of a council vehicle.

However, the death of Mr Bachop – who was not named directly in the police report – and the right to silence meant both had a defence that could not be overcome, it said.

That conclusion came despite the actions of one of the parties – a salesman at an unnamed Dunedin car dealership – being considered ”highly suspicious”, the police report said.

The ODT goes on to explain the reasoning by the Police for not prosecuting, and they name the woman and the car dealership. They didn’t name the salesman himself but I’ve seen his identity revealed online previously.

While these two individuals have escaped prosecution the burden of their exposure as highly suspect will live with them.

And Dunedin City Council has a severely stained reputation on this as well. One hundred and fifty two cars not being accounted for over ten years shows extremely lax asset management. Several senior staff have resigned since this was publicised.

Stuff also reports: Police raised possibility of others involved in Dunedin City Council Citifleet fraud.

The police investigation followed a Deloitte’s report which suggested six potential areas of criminal activities: 152 missing vehicles, credit card/fuel card spending, purchase of a motorbike, council vehicle conversion and cashing cheques for refilling parking machines.

The subsequent police investigation was to determine if anyone other than Bachop was involved in fraudulent activity, and if anyone had culpability as to the offending, or as a receiver.

Police spoke to all but three of the people who bought one of the 152 vehicles. Those three people could not be traced.

“Almost without exception the purchasers of the vehicles stated that they believed (Bachop) was entitled to sell the vehicles and had no reason to believe that he was not forwarding their money onto council,” the report noted.

So it remains unknown whether any of the car purchasers had any inkling they were getting bargains at the expense of ratepayers or not.

And the ‘negligence’ of the Council is pointed out.

The report also concluded that the council’s finance department was “negligent” in the way they maintained the fixed asset register.

“There is no evidence that anyone deliberately turned a blind eye to the errors on the register, nor is there any evidence that anyone in the finance department would have any motivation to complicit in (name withheld) offending.”

Negligence is a mild description for a finance department that did not detect that an average of fifteen significant assets per year for ten years were disappearing from their books.

And this may not be all. The Council decided to not investigate further back than ten years due to difficulties in checking through records. What records? It’s basic stuff accounting for assets.

Brent Bachop took over management of Dunedin City’s vehicle fleet from someone who was referred to as ‘Arthur Daly’.

The known level of fraud and the lack of confidence that it was the only fraud is a very bad look for Dunedin.

We can only hope that the Council now has rock solid accounting and accountability.

Dunedin anti development again

Dunedin already has a reputation for being anti-development, unless it’s University related, they seem to do what they like.

Mosgiel is the fastest growing part of Dunedin (one of the only growing parts). So Countdown applied for resource consent to build a supermarket there.

But a Dunedin City Council planner has recommended that consent be declined, as reported by ODT in Planner strikes a blow to proposal.

The recommendation comes on the basis the supermarket would have significant ”adverse affects” on the community.

The plan for a new Countdown on Gordon Rd, which was predicted to add 48 jobs, prompted concern among Mosgiel residents.

There were nine submissions against the development, citing increased traffic, pedestrian safety, noise and insufficient on-site parking among residents’ concerns, three submissions in support and six neutral.

I can imagine a Countdown supermarket might have an adverse effect on the profits of the existing New World supermarket, and sure it would effect traffic flows.

Council planner Amy Young’s opinion is one piece of evidence to be considered when the council’s hearings committee convenes to hear submissions next week.

In the report, Ms Young said she did not agree with Countdown’s argument the supermarket would maintain and enhance amenity values in what was a residential zone.

”I disagree with this statement and believe that the applicant has made no concessions in terms of designing a development that can integrate with, rather than dominate the residential environment.”

Ms Young also said Countdown’s application lacked detail about two other retail sites, pedestrian safety and residential amenity.

I thought a place to be food would be an essential residential amenity. And spreading out traffic and being closer to some parts of town would be an advantage.

It may be that Countdown has been not thorough enough in it’s application.

But on the surface this seems just another nail in Dunedin’s development coffin.

Bets are off Sky City’s stupid gamble

Sky City did a deal with the Government. They got gambling concessions in return for the promise of a convention centre in Auckland.

Now Sky say their cost estimates have gone up and they need financial assistance.

But Len Brown says the Auckland City Council won’t fork out – Ratepayer cash won’t go into convention centre, mayor promises.

Auckland mayor Len Brown says the council will not put any ratepayer cash into building or running an international convention centre.

He told the Weekend Herald yesterday that there would be no money for the SkyCity convention centre in a new 10-year budget.

The council and Mr Brown were blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity before Christmas that ratepayers’ money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for the controversial project.

SkyCity said the original $402 million cost had been “revised” to $470 million and to $530 million.

That doesn’t rule out non-cash assistance such as rates relief, and…

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce floated the idea of ratepayers helping cover operating costs, but has since talked down the idea and suggested the council look at its regulatory fees for the consent and construction process.

But ruling out cash is sensible, and essential.

Who would want to finance a company who makes a deal based on costings that under-esitmated (or under-claimed) the cost by 20-30%?

Sky either cocked up or cooked up a massive con.

And the Government should discount any financial assistance too. They negotiated a deal based on no cost to taxpayers.

If National now bow to Sky’s coercion/attempted blackmail and fork out they will rightfully be blasted for it. It would look  that bad it would be likely to play a major part in the demise of Key’s government.

It would be a stupid business gamble and a very stupid political gamble.

And Sky have made a stupid gamble thinking they can fool us on their cost claims and suck us in to finance their folly.

Call their bluff. If they renege on their deal and ditch the convention centre Sky will be the biggest losers.

In gambling you need to know when to walk away.

Oil and gas unethical?

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish suggests oil and gas is unethical, and she wants council guidelines that rule out using staff time or resources on anything deemed to be unethical.

Hello Dunedin! I’m keen for some feedback here.

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?*

Over 87% of submitters to a recent consultation we held on oil and gas exploration, told us they didn’t support it off our coast. If that is even vaguely close to an accurate reflection of public opinion, it suggests our city collectively opposes the activity. In that context, how comfortable would our citizens be with the Council actively seeking to maximise financial gain from that same activity?

Council could seek to do this in two ways:-
1. Using staff time or resources, or investing in infrastructure to help ensure Dunedin becomes the base of choice for oil companies.
2. To continue to seek distribution of royalties (the money the O&G companies pay the government) more locally.

Councillors’ views of the approaches were canvassed by the ODT yesterday, and some of the feedback they got is in today’s article – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/287660/oil-gas-base-host-race

To me, advocating for the second feels like a more ethical approach than the first. It is the Government that is imposing this on the regions – it’s not a choice that the regions have made. Therefore advocating for what is in effect compensation from the Government for their actions, feels like a reasonably ethical stance. But using ratepayers’ resources to convince a company whose activities we apparently collectively oppose to choose Dunedin as their base, feels to me as unethical as it does stupid**. If Council is in the business of wooing multinational coorperations to set up shop in Dunedin (which seems a questionably approach to economic development anyway) we could at least choose one that enhanced our brand and city offering, rather than detracting from it.

In my view, Council investments (whether staff time or cash), should be informed by its community’s views on what it’s right and ethical to be involved in. Thanks to submissions made to last year’s Annual Plan, we’ll be considering a ethical investment guidelines for the Waipori Fund in a few weeks time (will keep you posted on that). Perhaps there’s merit in considering extending those guidelines to cover other areas of Council investment (like staff time).

I’d welcome your thoughts…

I welcome thoughts on this too.

Is using oil and gas unethical? Or just oil and gas recovered in New Zealand?

Sourced from Facebook: Councillor Jinty MacTavish

Dunedin council divide on gas exploration

The Dunedin City Council is divided over seeking support business from gas exploration, and the mayor Dave Cull reveals he is still conflicted. ODT – City in race to host supply base:

Mr Cull also said the idea would be worthy of consideration if a case for it could be made, such as improving emergency response times.

Royalties from oil and gas revenue could help cover the debt-servicing costs associated with such an investment, but only if the Government agreed to share them with councils, he said.

The council would ”certainly consider” investment in infrastructure or other incentives to support the industry in Dunedin, but the oil companies’ needs would only become clear in time, he said.

That’s a fudgier response than yesterday:

Dunedin mayor Dave Cull told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme he personally favours the development of renewable fuels to combat climate change, but his council will try to maximise the economic benefit of the drilling.

I wonder if Jinty MacTavish has had words with him

Cull keeps talking about local royalties but that’s very unlikely. He should know this, maybe he is using them to leave an excuse to oppose.

Deputy mayor and others:

Some councillors were quick to celebrate, Cr Andrew Noone saying it was ”fantastic news”.

”It’s now a two-horse race, so we have got a 50% chance of securing a supply base,” he said.

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes agreed, saying news of Shell’s test drill was ”great”, while Cr Andrew Whiley described Shell’s announcement as ”simply awesome”.

All three men hoped the industry would eventually provide a much-needed boost for the city’s ailing economy, but Cr Staynes also suggested Dunedin could do more to secure hosting rights for any logistics base that might follow.

Green councilors in Dunedin don’t want  any gas or oil exploration.

… other councillors maintained their opposition to the industry, including Cr Aaron Hawkins, who said the council had a ”moral obligation” to protect the interests of future generations.

”I don’t think it’s fair to clamour over a few jobs now and leave our grandchildren to pick up the tab environmentally and economically.

”Frankly, I think that’s a very selfish way of looking at economic development.”

Cr Jinty MacTavish agreed, saying the city would not spend money to try to attract the ”unethical” tobacco industry, and should avoid the oil and gas industry for the same reasons.

”It’s an unethical business and I wouldn’t like to see Dunedin setting out to attract it.”

So they are against it ideologically.

Three other councillors, Crs Neville Peat, David Benson-Pope and Richard Thomson, “expressed either concern or outright opposition”.

Four – Doug Hall, Hilary Calvert, Mike Lord and Lee Vandervis – “welcomed Shell’s plans”.

John Bezett and Kate Wilson could not be contacted

That’s five against, seven for, two not determined and a conflicted mayor who is getting pressure from the business community as well as from his Green lobbiests.

Dunedin doesn’t get to decide if drilling happens but they do have a chance to contest the support business.

Dunedin People’s Advocate

I propose setting up a People’s Advocate service in Dunedin. This will substantially improve the relationship between the people of Dunedin and the City Council, and will also provide a better link between people and social services and local MPs.

It should have an office base in the city (outside the council) plus have a substantial presence online and in social media.

It’s late in the election to come up with a significant policy but it has been inspired by contact I have had with people through the campaign, building on what I have been proposing publicly. It is based on aims and wishes of myself and others that have been discussed over the past months.

I see five key areas the Dunedin People’s Advocate could work in:

  • Council – assist people dealing with the council, with queries and with problems
  • Social – assist people getting help and advice on social issues
  • Political – act as a liaison between people and the mayor and council, and also with local MPs
  • Issues – promote discussion on issues of public interest online and via public meetings
  • Lobbying – following on from discussion of issues determine public opinion (as accurately as possible) and lobby on behalf of the people of Dunedin in council and with central government.

There may be more that people want covered. This idea is open to public input and discussion. Some of these functions are already done in party by people and organisations, but I see a major benefit in having an umbrella advocacy service.

Dunedin People’s Advocate would work closely with:

  • Dunedin City Council
  • Mayor’s office and councillors
  • Dunedin based MPs
  • Social service groups
  • Organisations that do some of these things already, like the Department of Theology and Public Issues
  • Current online forums and social media


I think this should be part funded by DCC. It needn’t cost ratepayers any more, it could be funded from a reallocation of budgets. This would assist council Public Services so could come from that budget, plus a slight shift of priority from strategic planning to actually doing things that matter right now.

It would be a far more effective use of ratepayer money than other expenditure.

There could be benefits in this not being totally owned (and potentially controlled) by council, so there could be benefits in it being substantially but not totally funded by DCC. Public funds and private and business sponsorship could sought.


This would depend on the budget but it would need at least two permanent part or full time staff. It would also work with substantial voluntary input.

It would need an office outside of council, plus mobile office facilities plus a significant online presence.

Management and Oversight

Day to day management would be by staff.

Oversight, appointments and overall management would be by a publicly elected management board.

I would like to see the mayor or a representative councillor be an honorary member of the board – contributing and liaising but without voting rights to maintain people’s power.

Bottom Line

This would provide a substantial benefit to the people of Dunedin and improve the relationship and engagement between people of the city and their council.

If elected mayor the establishment of this would be a top priority for me. If elected councillor I would also strongly promote it but it would be more difficult to achieve unless the elected mayor gave it a similar priority.

Thanks to those who have contributed their ideas to this. I welcome further input.

Pete George

Dunedin candidate – Mayor & Council
Mobile: 027 327 3468
Home: 03 471 2122
Twitter: @petedgeorge
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petedgeorge
Blog: http://yourdunedin.org/

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