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Senior manager admits defrauding ministry

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 9/11/2016

A former senior manager at the Ministry of Transport has admitted defrauding the government department of more than $700,000.

Joanne Harrison pleaded guilty to three representative charges of dishonestly taking or using a document relating the ministry paying $726,000 to entities associated with her.

Charges against the 50-year-old former general manager of organisational development were laid by the Serious Fraud Office in August.

She had worked for the ministry from April 2011 until this year when management became suspicious and launched an internal investigation before calling in the SFO.

"The ministry referred the matter to the SFO at a very early stage which enabled the investigation to progress quickly.," said SFO director Julie Read.

"The ministry is now taking measures to ensure its processes minimise the risk of fraud. Ms Harrison's actions betrayed her colleagues and we hope this case reminds other entities, both public and private, to review any weaknesses in their financial operations."

Harrison will be sentenced in the Manukau District Court next month.

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