Trustee member charged with fraud

By Regan Paranihi

Former trust asset manager and trustee Saul Roberts pleaded guilty to fraud in Auckland’s High Court after receiving secret payments in 2009 and 2012.

Roberts was the asset manager for Te Roopu Taurima o Manukau Trust and a trustee and employee of Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority.

He received a secret payment of $45,000 in 2009 for withdrawing a public submission he had lodged on behalf of Te Kawerau against a proposed change to a district plan.

The company who made the payment to Roberts was unaware of the fact that the employer had no knowledge of the transaction.

Roberts also received secret commission payments in 2012 for contracting work to certain suppliers to Te Roopu Taurima o Manukau Trust, one of which was owned by Atish Narayan, who also pleaded guilty to three fraud charges last year.

Serious Fraud Office director Julie Read says, "Deliberate acts of fraud against a publicly funded health care provider and a charitable trust are completely unacceptable and a matter of significant public concern."

She also says, "The SFO’s role is to prosecute such matters on behalf of New Zealanders in order to keep these organisations free from corruption."

Roberts will be sentenced on February 27.