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Back in November we talked about how New Zealand had a higher rate of economic crime than its near neighbours, way above the world average: a massive 42% of businesses in New Zealand had suffered economic fraud in the previous 12 months against a global average of 30%.
Now it’s emerging that the country may have problems with bribery within one of its government institutions. Readers will already know of (Ex) MP Phillip Field found guilty of bribery and corruption. The former immigration boss Mary Anne Field who “consistently breached” the requirements of public servants to manage conflicts of interest. They may also remember Former list MP Donna Awatere Huata who was convicted of fraud.
Voxy first hosted a HNZ press release yesterday that carefully avoided the “B” word:
“Housing New Zealand is investigating an allegation a staff member has been offering applicants for state houses preferential treatment, in return for money, Chief Executive Dr Lesley McTurk said today.
“I can reassure everyone this situation is being thoroughly investigated. Immediate employment action has been taken,” Dr McTurk said. “Once our investigation is complete, it will be possible to make a decision whether it is appropriate to bring the matter to the attention of the Police…..”
Today the Herald is running a story saying that it may not be just a single employee that’s involved and, in an article that mentioned the dreaded “B” word five times, said:
“Allegations that a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) staff member has been taking bribes is not the first claim of its kind, says a tenant advocate. Piripi Gray said he welcomed the investigation and had previously heard of other allegations of bribery at HNZ.
He said tenants were vulnerable and felt intimidated by HNZ staff.
“But if they come forward than people can really see what is happening inside Housing New Zealand,” Mr Gray said. He said tenants had complained to him in the past that application forms were not being processed and that HNZ staff were asking for goods such as stereos.”
Stereos?! well at least they won’t show up on the bank statements. The Herald closed with:
“New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services secretary Raewyn Fox said many of her clients were also clients of Housing New Zealand but she had never heard of bribery.
“I have heard mumbles about the waiting lists though,” Ms Fox said. “Even the suggestion that something like this has happened will damage their confidence,” she said.
Housing Minister Phil Heatley praised HNZ for its “swift action”.
“Prospective Housing New Zealand tenants and the wider public must have confidence in the probity of the state house system. I’m confident all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that is the case,” Mr Heatley said.
Mr Heatley said anyone with complaints about HNZ could call the authority’s complaints line in “absolute confidence” on 0800 801 601.”
A typical call may go something like this “Oh yes, a while ago I gave this chick at HNZ my stereo so she wouldn’t ‘lose’ my paperwork again. You’re not going to take my home off me are you?” How many calls do you think HNZ is going to get from tenants who already feel “vulnerable” and “intimidated”?
We have a feeling that this one will run and run but we don’t think that HNZ’s complaint’s line is going to be red hot.
Stand by to see what else comes out of the woodwork over the next few days.
UPDATE 18 April – Sex For State Houses Allegations
Steve Hopkins of the Sunday News has written a piece saying that an Housing NZ investigation is underway following allegations that one of their workers abused his position to have sex with tenants:
“A South Auckland woman complained to HNZ that a staff member, who helped find her a property “just down the road from his”, pressured her and other HNZ tenants into having sex.
HNZ staff are forbidden from having relationships with clients under the Public Sector Code of Conduct.
The 50-year-old mother of five said: “He sees attractive women coming through his work. He befriends them at first but his real intention is to have sex with them. He’s a predator.”…
Read the rest of it HERE
6 thoughts on “Allegations Of Bribery At Housing New Zealand? Updated – Sex Scandal”
It may intrest folks that I repaired the computer and provided ram at no charge to our previous tennancey manager. Further for those who have not read my blog above my wife and I are now facing prosocution to tennant dishonesty and whats more HNZ have refused us access to information and the ability to correct information we know to be wrong and was used to obtain these charges.
Well Mr Heatly, We have made complaints about HNZ staff and you have done nothing other than hand the complaint to Dr McTurk who has downplayed the matter. We received a response from you that the problem is an operational HNZ issue and you cannot help.
We have been on the receiving end of housing new zealands antics for years.
Some of ther antics have been documented in here.
What i also find interesting is that we have found it very hard to get tennancey services to assist in sorting this matter out in an impartial manner and this can be seen clearly by the adjudicators comments early on.
Thank you for the reports. We note that one was written by Phil Heatley who went on to to become the Minister for Housing until he resigned over an expenses scandal, two weeks after news of the bribery allegations was let out.
Despite all the allegations of bribery only one person was reported to police for further investigation, that looks rather like a token gesture doesn’t it? At the same time multiple tenants are to be investigated for acting dishonestly. That doesn’t seem balanced, or proportional. Turning it back on the victim will ensure that people are going to be even more wary of reporting corrupt behaviour. Who in future is going to risk making a complaint and live in fear of being prosecuted or losing their home in a “he said she said” situation?
“HNZ would further investigate cases where it believed tenants had acted dishonestly in obtaining a state home, and taking appropriate action, potentially tenancy termination.” McTurk
Forget the law with this outfit. Rotten from the top to the bottom. I notice even the Chief Executive switches the bribery back onto tenant dishonesty. In all The cases, poor tenant has had money stolen by HNZ staff and then usually gets the choice to complain and go homeless or shut up and pay. The bribery comes with blackmail, theft, threats and a great deal of hardship, not to mention weeks in someones garage on the floor. But still its “the tenant who is dishonest” never the employees.
What Is Housing New Zealand Trying To Hide?
Thursday, 3 January 2008, 7:01 am
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
Phil Heatley MP
National Party Housing Spokesman
2 January 2008
What is Housing New Zealand trying to hide?
Revelations that a senior management job at Housing New Zealand is so sensitive that details have been blocked from ministerial briefing papers are unbelievable given the number of scandals the troubled department has already been through in the past year, says National’s Housing spokesman, Phil Heatley.
This ones easy to pick. Try ” hiring Policemen and paying police to spy on poor, innocent and simple tenants who are just trying to keep the wolf from the door. Instead, a pack of wolves descends. And the children bear the brunt. Along with that -a Human rights abuse, health and disability ignored, forget privacy, Guilty before innocent. — lawyers back it all up.
And any complaints you have- don’t go there!
HNZ are the most corrupt goverment agency.I have tried making complaints in the past about some serious things but was treated so disgusting that i have now been forced to move into a private rental.you would have to have your head in the sand if you belive that these recent allegations are new.i hope that the so called investigation brings everything out in the open instead of covering up again
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