Education consultant admits receiving $150,000 in kickbacks
A former employee of the tertiary education provider Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi has admitted receiving secret commissions midway through her trial.
Katherine Tuhakaraina (60) pleaded guilty today in the Tauranga District Court to one representative charge of ‘Receiving secret reward for procuring contracts’ brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
The defendant received approximately $150,000 in kickbacks from Koa Consultants who delivered an education course to the wānanga.
Ms Tuhakaraina had recommended her employer award the company the contract. The defendant made the recommendation knowing she would get a share of Koa Consultants’ profits if it got the work. Her employer was unaware of this agreement or that the defendant had any personal interest in the awarding of work to Koa Consultants.
The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “Corruption is a priority for the SFO. It disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society and in cases such as this, undermines the good work of the wānanga and its dedicated employees. Ms Tuhakaraina deceived her employer to obtain funds provided to the education sector from the Crown. Her offending was corrupt and a gross breach of trust.”
Ms Tuhakaraina was remanded on bail to reappear in the Tauranga District Court for sentencing on 5 May.
Serious Fraud Office
027 705 4550
Note to editors
Katherine Tuhakaraina (60) of Rotorua is an education consultant who was employed as the programme co-ordinator for Hei Manaaki at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi (Awanuiārangi) from 2009 to 2014.
Ms Tuhakaraina’s role included recommending contractors to Awanuiarangi, a tertiary education provider based in Whakatane.
Secret Commissions Act offences
Section 8 Receiving secret reward for procuring contracts an offence
(1) Every person is guilty of an offence who advises any person to enter into a contract with a third person and receives or agrees to receive from that third person, without the knowledge and consent of the person so advised, any gift or consideration as an inducement or reward for the giving of that advice or the procuring of that contract, unless the person giving that advice himself acts as the agent of the third person in entering into the contract, or is to the knowledge of the person so advised the agent of that third person.
(2) For the purposes of this section a person shall be deemed to advise another person to enter into a contract if he makes to that other person any statement or suggestion with intent to induce him to enter into the contract.
About the SFO
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.
The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.
The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.
This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.
The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.
The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.
Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”
Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”
In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:
- the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
- the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
- the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
- any relevant public interest considerations.
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