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Ex-Waikato DHB board member angry former CEO won't be charged

Newshub logoNewshub 4/07/2019 Dan Satherley, Delphine Herbert
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A fraud investigation into the former head of the Waikato District Health Board has been called off, frustrating a former board member.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said proving Dr Nigel Murray's wrongdoing was criminal would have required extensive investigations in Canada, and "the public interest did not warrant the expenditure required given the total quantum of the amounts allegedly obtained".

Dr Murray ran up unauthorised expenses of over $200,000 in two years, then resigned from his job in 2017 to avoid employment action being taken against him.

Former DHB member Dave MacPherson told Newshub the SFO's decision is disappointing.

"It's like saying, well if you're a senior bloke and you've taken too much money, we're not going to go after you. Over $200,000 went."

a person with collar shirt: Commissioner Peter Hughes says Dr Murray's conduct fell short of what is expected in a public sector position. © Video - Newshub; Image - Getty Commissioner Peter Hughes says Dr Murray's conduct fell short of what is expected in a public sector position.

Macpherson says the information on Dr Murray's wrongs is already out there.

"In this case, the media has already done most of the research, as well as the State Services Commission (SSC)... what's there to be done?"

The SFO said it agreed with the conclusions the SSC came to - 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 furtherance of this investigation to obtain evidence sufficient to satisfy the criminal standard of proof would have required extensive investigations in Canada," said SFO director Julie Read. "The public interest did not warrant the expenditure required given the total quantum of the amounts allegedly obtained."

Former DHB chairman Bob Simcock told Newshub last year he regretted hiring Dr Murray.

"If I knew what I know now, we would not have employed Nigel Murray. Had he not done what he did, then I would be getting on with the business that we were trying to achieve."

Nigel Murray's spending

Dr Murray spent $218,166 on expenses in three years at the Waikato DHB.

He was paid a $560,000 salary, and the DHB paid $106,000 to a recruitment agency to hire him.

He resigned the role in October last year after an internal investigation, saying he'd repay some of the overspending. That investigation reportedly cost $150,000.

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