Serious Fraud Office clears Te Pātaka Ōhanga of any criminal spending

updated By Te Ao Māori News

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has completed investigating allegations of misuse of funds held within Te Pātaka Ōhanga Limited.

In a statement released today the Serious Fraud Office says it, “did not disclose any criminal offending and it will not be taking any further action.”

The investigation focused on a number of loans made by Te Pātaka Ōhanga (TPO) staff and their whānau as well as the use of TPO credit cards. The initial details of the information investigated surfaced on Māori Television's current affairs show, Native Affairs after it was approached by concerned Kōhanga members of the Mataatua rohe in regards to management of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust and it's subsidiary Te Pātaka Ōhanga.

 The SFO says “after considering the scope of any restrictions imposed upon TPO with regard to the use of funds, the SFO does not consider any further action is warranted with regard to loans."

The statement goes on to say, “While some expenditure on a TPO credit card related to personal items, the SFO is satisfied on the information available that the card was used in error and that repayments were made.  This was the case in relation to expenditure at Trelise Cooper and in relation to the purchase of a wedding dress.”

Minister of Education Hekia Parata adds, "Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board needs to continue to focus on transforming its governance and management, and must be able to restore public confidence."

In a statement responding to the SFO findings, Parata says "the decision by the Serious Fraud Office not to take any further action regarding the Trust’s subsidiary, Te Pātaka Ohanga (TPO) allows the Trust to continue to move forward with the changes it must make."

She says she's glad she referred matters concerning TPO to the SFO and says it was "the right thing to do as it had the powers to look at this subsidiary and the concerns that had been raised."

In it’s statement the SFO attributed other issues raised to failures in the corporate governance structure and it understands TPO has taken steps to address the issues. It also says if further information surfaces it will reconsider its conclusion in relation to the matter.