Two Indian-origin men sentenced for fraud

Wellington–A court in New Zealand has sentenced two Indian origin men for defrauding a former city council in New Zealand of nearly NZ$850,000 (US$676,855) over a period of 10 years.

Hemant Kumar Maharaj and Suresh Din were Thursday sentenced in the Auckland District Court for corruptly obtaining public funds from the former North Shore City Council to the tune of NZ$849,000 through their corrupt scheme, according to a statement issued by New Zealand’s Serious Frauds Office (SFO).

Maharaj was sentenced to two years and 10 months in prison while Din was sentenced to a 10-month home detention and 350 hours of community service.

The SFO had laid the charges against Maharaj and Din in September 2010 and the two were found guilty in June this year.

When Maharaj was working for the North Shore City Council in 1999, he and Din formed an agreement to invoice the council for road and berm maintenance work.

Though the work mentioned was never completed, the pair used 151 invoices in their scheme, with Din submitting the invoices under the name of S. Din Family Trust and Maharaj then signing off the work as being completed and forwarding the invoices for payment.

North Shore City, a former territorial authority in the Auckland region of this south Pacific island nation, was governed by the North Shore City Council from 1989 to 2010.

In November 2010, the city was merged with the rest of the Auckland region.

The North Shore City Council was then abolished and the place came under the purview of the Auckland City Council.

“SFO is committed to minimising the impact of corruption on our economy through investigation and prosecution of issues in both the public and private sectors,” acting SFO chief executive Simon McArley said in a statement after the sentencing.

“New Zealand has an enviable international reputation for low levels of corruption. This is invaluable to our economic interests and SFO prioritises cases such as this one so that we deter offending that may undermine that reputation,” he added.—IANS