SFO closes probe into former Waikato DHB boss

SFO closes probe into former Waikato DHB boss Nigel Murray 4 Jul, 2019 4:01pm Waikato District Health Board former Nigel Murray. Photo / file NZ Herald Share on Reddit reddit The Serious Fraud Office won’t pursue criminal charges against former Waikato District Health Board chief Dr Nigel Murray over his alleged misuse of public money. SFO director Julie Read said committing additional “very high level of resources required to prove criminal charges beyond reasonable doubt was not in the public interest”. Read said it would have required extensive investigation in Canada and the public interest did not warrant that cost given the amounts allegedly obtained. Murray resigned in October 2017. A State Services Commission inquiry released in March 2018 showed he spent $218,000 on travel and accommodation in the three years he held the $560,000 job, half of which was either unauthorised or unjustified. Advertisement Advertise with NZME. The case was referred to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO). In a statement today, Read said the SFO concurred with the conclusions reached by the SSC about Murray’s conduct. “The SSC investigation found that Dr Murray’s conduct did not meet the minimum standards expected of him as a CEO in the State sector, and that more than half of his travel and accommodation expenses were unauthorised or unjustified.” The SCC report found Murray’s actions were “serious and sustained breaches of the State Sector Code of Conduct”. The four-month inquiry, ordered by Minister of Health David Clark after Murray’s expense receipts became public following repeated media requests, found Murray’s conduct fell short of what is required of a state-sector leader and that oversight of his expenses by the former board chairman lacked rigour. The investigation found Murray had unjustifiably spent $120,608. The breaches uncovered were so serious the SSC has now referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Office, to decide if it meets the level of criminal wrongdoing. At the time, Commissioner Peter Hughes was highly critical of Murray. “This is hard-earned taxpayer money, and I think Dr Murray’s behaviour is an affront to the taxpayers of New Zealand. “They have every right to feel aggrieved. “They should expect the highest standards from the state servants that they entrust with the stewardship of our state services.” The commission’s investigation, led by John Ombler QSO, found: • Murray spent $218,209 of Waikato DHB money on travel, accommodation and related expenses between July 2014 and October 2017; • There were 129 items of expenditure on travel and accommodation during the former chief executive’s tenure; • 59 of the items, valued at $101,161, did not meet Waikato DHB’s policies for appropriate authorisation; • 45 of the items, valued at $120,608, were unjustified when measured against the Auditor-General’s guidelines; • Murray spent $74,265 on personal costs and had to reimburse the money; • Murray has repaid $54,831 and $19,434 remains in dispute; • More than half of Murray’s travel and accommodation (by cost) was unjustified, and about half was unauthorised or had authorisation deficiencies; • Murray’s relocation expenses contravened the agreement made in his letter of offer and the Waikato DHB policy on staff travel and accommodation. At the time, Murray’s lawyer said they had made a complaint to the Privacy Commission about the lack of documents provided to them about the investigation. “It is our advice to Dr Murray that the processes of the SCC investigation are not fair and are, in our view, not lawful. “Dr Murray has accepted that advice, and for that reason believes that participating in this investigation at this stage will place him in unknown jeopardy.” The investigation documents included a reply to Murray’s lawyers, saying he had been given “extensive” information. Former Waikato DHB board member Dave Macpherson today criticised the SFO’s decision. “To say that [it’s] too small of an amount to go after him for seems entirely the wrong message. It’s public money and how is anyone being held accountable?” Former Labour MP Sue Moroney, who lodged a complaint with the SFO over Murray’s spending, called the outcome disappointing. Herald recommends

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