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:

Auditor general to stand down

Stuff: Auditor-General Martin Matthews to stand down pending independent inquiry

The Offices of Parliament Committee decided unanimously to undertake an independent inquiry into Auditor-General Martin Matthews’ suitability for the position.

He will stand down in the meantime. Review is expected to take a fortnight and will be done by Sir Martin Weevers.

The committee, who appointed  Matthews in the job, earlier met at 4pm to discuss his handling of fraudster Joanne Harrison while he was chief executive of the Ministry of Transport (MoT).

Speaker expects Ministry of Transport to completely comply with investigation, which will determine suitability of Matthews in the position of Auditor General.

I think that this was inevitable.