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Home detention for council bribe taker

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/09/2016

A former Auckland council manager who took more than $100,000 worth of bribes from a contractor has been given home detention.

Barrie Kenneth James George, 69, was handed a sentence of 10 months' home detention in the High Court at Auckland after pleading guilty to two charges of taking bribes, including overseas holidays for his family, from a company to who millions of dollars of contracts were given by Rodney District Council and Auckland Transport from 2005 to 2012.

George - a senior transport manager at the council and later AT - never declared he was being given tens of thousands of dollars worth of travel, accommodation and liquor by the contractor he worked closely with, including clearing invoices.

Handing down the sentence on Thursday, Justice Graham Lang said while George had taken the gifts, there was no suggestion he had done anything untoward in exchange.

But he said the offending risked creating a perception of corruption in a public service that owed a duty to ratepayers and threatened to undermine trust in local government.

Justice Lang acknowledged George had come forward with concerns about a "culture" of gift-giving and socialising between council staff and contractors, and co-operated with authorities afterwards.

George had been an engineer at Rodney District Council since 1974.

He and several other staff were dismissed or resigned following an internal investigation by the council after George raised concerns.

His lawyer, Robert Hollyman, said George was a whistle-blower and there was a "sad irony" he was being punished.

"He was the one who took it to authorities and blew the whistle," Mr Hollyman said.

But he said George accepted responsibility and was highly remorseful.

George's former boss, Murray Noone, is also facing six charges and is accused of taking more than $1 million in bribes.

Stephen Borlase, who ran contracting company Projenz, faces eight charges of bribing officials.

Both deny the charges and will stand trial on September 19.

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