SFO closes Christchurch City Council Donations case
The Serious Fraud Office has closed its investigation into Christchurch City Council election donations.
The investigation focused on campaign donations made to Lianne Dalziel, who is currently the mayor of Christchurch, in 2013, 2016 and 2019.
The SFO found no evidence of any criminal conduct during its investigation.
The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said, “It is in the public interest that allegations of electoral funding fraud be treated seriously and given due attention. In a representative democracy, voters must have confidence that those who make electoral donations do not unduly influence government decisions. While there was no evidence of corrupt conduct in this matter, the SFO believes further guidance is required at the local government level relating to donations made at fundraising auctions and how they are publicly disclosed.”
The SFO has no further comment.
Serious Fraud Office
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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 and low levels of corruption.
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.
The SFO’s Annual Report 2019 sets out the agency’s achievements over the past year and is available online at www.sfo.govt.nz.
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