City council efforts to recover its vehicles elusive

City council efforts to recover its vehicles elusive

$1.5 million, 152 cars and two jobs gone

Controversy continues over the Dunedin City Council’s $1.5 million Citifleet fraud case, with the DCC saying that it will be difficult to recover any of the vehicles sold to individual buyers, as most buyers seemed to have purchased the vehicles in good faith.

The DCC found themselves in the middle of a scandal earlier this year, due to the $1.5 million of missing proceeds from the sale of 152 council cars.

Earlier last week, according to the ODT, council members said that the DCC would not even be seeking to recover cars bought by individual buyers. This was due to the fact that Brent Bachop, who was culpable of conducting the sale of the cars within his role as Citifleet manager, died shortly after being approached about the discrepancies.

However, while DCC Communications and Marketing Manager Graham McKerracher said that the DCC is unable to answer questions until the police investigation is complete, upon which the Council will release the full Deloitte report, when he was asked if the DCC would be recovering the vehicles sold to individual buyers, and if processes would differ when the sale involved multiple buyers and multiple vehicles, McKerracher said the DCC is “considering all legal remedies open to us.”

Also, while the DCC Chief Financial Officer, Grant McKenzie, also stated last week that the council had already received legal advice not to pursue recovery of cars bought by individuals, McKenzie also told the ODT, “That [the decision not to pursue individual buyers of council cars] would not be the same … if people bought multiple vehicles.” McKenzie said the focus would centre on specific buyers that bought the most vehicles, for, “if you look at it from a practical point of view, that's where you'd be focusing, isn't it?”

By this logic, it seems the investigation will now shift to focus on the buyers who bought the greater number of vehicles – this is understood to include members of a Dunedin family that bought 25 cars in total during Bachop’s time as Citifleet manager.

The fraud investigation has currently cost the council upwards of $20,000, and resulted in the loss of two council members’ jobs, including former Infrastructure and Services Manager Tony Avery in late August. Citifleet manager Kevin Thompson resigned this September, although he is said to not be involved in the alleged fraud.

Deloitte’s comprehensive report has been referred to Police, as well as the Serious Fraud Office, and the council’s insurers, QBE. Bidrose has stated that the police investigation is expected to be completed by Christmas, upon which, the Deloitte report will be released to the public.
This article first appeared in Issue 26, 2014.
Posted 1:49pm Sunday 5th October 2014 by Emily Draper.