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SFO's fees to consultants rocket

#1 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

We would like to see a more detailed breakdown available to the general public into these consultants and contractors costs/ expenses are and where they have gone to. In our opinion, we believe, they need to be made accountable in a similar way to those Government datasets online to ensure transparency in all areas.

SFO's fees to consultants rocket with finance-firm probes
By Jared Savage
5:30 AM Saturday Feb 4, 2012


Adam Feeley. Photo / Dean Purcell

The Serious Fraud Office spent $1.3 million on consultants and contractors in the most recent financial year - up from less than $100,000 three years ago.

Most of the money was spent on forensic accountants and investigators who the white-collar crime agency said were needed to help with a large number of cases including six finance companies, such as South Canterbury Finance and Hanover, in the past 18 months.

Criminal charges were laid in five finance cases, and Hanover is still under investigation.

According to figures released under the Official Information Act, the external spending increased from $97,356 in the 2007/08 financial year to $1,318,967 three years later.

Accounting firms to secure lucrative deals include Deloitte ($213,817), KPMG ($151,213) and KordaMentha ($98,709).

In the first three months of this financial year, the SFO spent a further $369,463, with nearly $100,000 of that paid to a private investigation firm, Omega Investigations.

The marked rise in payments to contractors and consultants was a result of significant investigations, including South Canterbury Finance, Hanover, Belgrave Finance, Dominion Finance, Capital + Merchant Finance and Rockforte Finance.

"The complex nature of these cases requires specialist skills which have, in part, been met from external providers," the SFO said.

"SFO is now decreasing its dependence on external providers by recruiting additional forensic accountants, investigators and lawyers," the agency said in a statement.

The extra resources also led to 84 per cent of inquiries being completed within 12 months and the average inquiry length of less than six months, according to the SFO.

Staff numbers are likely to increase from 40 to 50, as the SFO budget will be given an extra $7.5 million over the next three years.

The $1.3 million spent in the 2010/2011 financial year also came after SFO director Adam Feeley was appointed in late 2009 and restructured the agency, which led to four senior staff being made redundant.

"If that experience was to be lost, it would be very hard to replace those people who have had ... a unique experience fighting white-collar crime in New Zealand," one Queens Counsel said during the restructuring.

Three of the senior staff - Gib Beattie, Ian Varley and David Osborn - had nearly 50 years of SFO experience and have since started their own forensic investigation firm, Beattie Varley & Associates.

Another 11 staff have resigned since September 2009.

At the time of the restructuring, Mr Feeley told the Herald the need for change was endorsed by other law-enforcement agencies, regulators and the insolvency sector, as well as major legal and accounting firms.

Big crime, big costs

Consultants' and contractors' costs:
* 2007/08: $97,356
* 2008/09: $200,872
* 2009/10: $401,926
* 2010/11: $1,318,967
* July-October 2011: $369,463
By Jared Savage | Email Jared

Omega Investigations






Director Phil Jones established a company, Omega Investigations Ltd in 1996 as an investigation and surveillance company. Phil was determined to provide customers with the very best quality service and by providing this excellent service was often asked if he could supply security guards as well.

In 2005 Omega Investigations merged with Prestige Protection Ltd, a company that had a reputation for VIP security, close protection and superior security guard services. The merger and subsequent expansion has resulted in a much wider range of products, improved customer service and a team of around 40 staff and contractors to cover both investigation and security.

To reflect the merger and wider focus, the company was renamed Prestige Risk Management in 2008.

In 2011, Phil purchased the investigation division of the business and now is once again returned back to the original name of Omega Investigations. Now as New Zealand’s premier investigation and Security Company, Omega aims to continue to improve its range of services to provide peace of mind to its expanding client list of individuals and companies.
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#2 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 04:18 PM

Fraud busters spend $195k on PR
By Jared Savage jaredsavageNZH
5:30 AM Friday Mar 8, 2013


The Serious Fraud Office spent $195,000 on public relations advice in one year.

Another $210,000 was paid to one private investigation firm and $205,000 to a company giving "strategic policy advice and research".

The total bill for consultants and contractors was nearly $1.2 million in the 2011/12 financial year, according to figures obtained under the Official Information Act.

The cost is slightly down on the record $1.3 million spent in the previous year, which the SFO said was the result of hiring forensic accountants, lawyers and investigators to help with a large number of finance company cases.

At the time, the white-collar crime agency said it would recruit more staff to reduce its reliance on external help.

Payments to forensic accounting firms have decreased by $113,000 from the 2010/11 financial year.

But the total of $1.2 million still dwarfs the $97,000 bill for consultants and contractors five years ago.

The payments to SvG Ltd, run by public relations consultant Sharon van Gulik, were $194,653 - more than any forensic accounting firm.

Only Omega Investigations ($210,744) and Martin, Jenkins & Associates ($205,632) were paid more in 2011/12.

Omega is a private investigation firm and Martin Jenkins & Associates is a Wellington consultancy group hired for "strategic policy advice and research", according to SFO office manager Mary Harris.

Spending on consultants and contractors seems to have slowed, with $238,000 paid in the first six months of the 2012/13 financial year.

"Contractors are usually only engaged where internal expertise is unavailable or at capacity," Ms Harris said.

Staff numbers are now at 52, up from 35 in 2011 after a Government cash boost of $7.5 million over three years.

Spending on consultants and contractors increased after Adam Feeley was appointed chief executive in late 2009 and made sweeping changes to the agency.

Some senior managers were made redundant and others resigned.

Mr Feeley resigned last July to become chief executive of the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

SFO consultants and contractors

2007/08: $97,356.

2008/09: $200,872.

2009/10: $401,926.

2010/11: $1,318,967.

2011/12: $1,198,623.

July-Dec 2012:

Top contracts 2011/12

$210,744: private investigators Omega Investigations.

$205,632: consultancy firm Martin, Jenkins & Associates.

$194,653: PR consultant SvG Ltd.

By Jared Savage jaredsavageNZH Email Jared

#3 User is offline   hukildaspida 

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Posted 04 September 2014 - 04:09 PM

Feeley hopes for criminal investigation

By APNZ staff, NZ Herald
2:23 PM Monday Sep 1, 2014


Former Serious Fraud Office boss Adam Feeley says he hopes the police are considering a criminal investigation into claims Judith Collins was linked to a smear campaign against him.

Mr Feeley said he believed both the police and SFO would be considering whether they had grounds to launch an inquiry.

"It's almost certain that several offences could have been committed if people were undermining a police or an SFO investigation, absolutely," he told RadioLive this morning.

"I would be surprised if both SFO and police weren't thinking about that today."

He went on to say he "would hope" both organisations were considering an inquiry and that he would "like to know what the truth is".

"Given what's come out I think everyone is now curious, so I would like if, and I do stress the word if, if there is more to all of this than meets the eye then it would be good for the truth to come out," he said.

Read more: John Armstrong - Crisis calls on Key to use all his skills
Key: National campaign still on track

Former Justice Minister Ms Collins resigned from the Cabinet on Saturday. Her departure came after an email was revealed in which her name was linked to a smear campaign against Mr Feeley run by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and other parties linked to former Hanover director Mark Hotchin.

Mr Hotchin was at the time under investigation by the SFO.

At the time Ms Collins had responsibility for the SFO and in the email Slater claimed she had been "gunning" for Mr Feeley.

Ms Collins has strongly denied any wrongdoing and asked for an inquiry but resigned her ministerial posts. The Prime Minister is expected to announce details of the inquiry tomorrow or on Wednesday.

Watch: Dirty politics: PM's office receives subpoena

Asked yesterday whether he was ever concerned that information he had given to Ms Collins or her officials might have found its way to Mr Hotchin or Hanover's lawyers, Mr Feeley refused to comment directly on the case but confirmed he did "periodically give ministers indications of where particular investigations were going".

About 16,000 people with investments totalling more than $500 million lost most of their money following the failure of Hanover and related companies, and the sale of assets to Allied Farmers.

The SFO did not lay charges but the Financial Markets Authority brought civil charges that will be heard in court next year.

Read more of the Herald's coverage:
• Calls for a full commission of inquiry
• The money men and how they toppled Collins
• Commissioner concerned by allegations
• Gallery: Collins in cartoons
• I'm the victim of a smear campaign: Judith Collins resigns
• Resignation reaction: 'Too little, too late'
• The email that brought down Judith Collins
• Collins resigns: Blogger backs mate
• Collins resigns: Jared Savage and Fran O'Sullivan respond

This morning Mr Feeley assured Hanover investors that any decision not to prosecute would not have been influenced by a Government minister.

"In my entire time at SFO I never made a decision to investigate or not to investigate, prosecute or not to prosecute, based on whether it would be popular with the public, with investors, or indeed the government of the day," Mr Feeley told RadioLive.

"The public should feel comfortable that certainly I, and I have no doubt [current chief executive Julie Read] operates no differently to me, we took our decisions always independently, and I think one of the trademarks of the SFO is it's always been fiercely independent.

"We never made a decision to investigate or not investigate, or to charge or not charge, some body or some organisation based on media pressure, based on popular opinion, based on what bloggers were saying."

Meanwhile the Financial Markets Authority's former boss Sean Hughes, today said he did not seek a second term in the role, partly because of the attacks he was subjected to on right-wing blogs Whale Oil and Cactus Kate.

Mr Hughes told Radio New Zealand the blog attacks were an attempt to "put us off our game".

"They were distasteful, they created an unnecessary distraction and anxiety for the organisation and the team that I was leading, and of course the personal attack on me was just unnecessary.

"It was not fair on my family, or myself, to put myself through an ongoing experience such as this."

A police spokesman said they were not yet considering an investigation, but would monitor the Government-led inquiry to see if anything of interest came to light.

"At this time police have not received any complaints in relation to the resignation of Judith Collins at the weekend," a police spokesman said in a statement.

"Police are aware that the terms of reference of an inquiry into these matters will be announced later this week.

"Police will monitor the progress of any relevant inquiry for matters which may become of interest from a police perspective."

Watch: Key announces Judith Collins' resignation

However, officers would assess any allegation of a criminal nature they are made aware of, the spokesman said, but these are dealt with on a "case-by-case basis".

"Police will not be drawn into issues of a political nature which do not involve substantiated issues of alleged criminality."

To complaints have been laid in relation to Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics book, the spokesman said, one by blogger Cameron Slater, whose hacked emails were used in the book, and one from the Green Party. They are still being assessed, he said.

- NZ Herald

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