Fraud case diary: witness questions signatures

In the Dunedin High Court this week, former Otago District Health Board CIO Michael Swann and businessman Kerry Harford are each facing three fraud charges. Here are the proceedings so far: Monday

Jury selected.

Tuesday

NZPA and the Otago Daily Times report lawyers for Swann and Harford said neither acted dishonestly or intended to defraud. The Crown alleges the pair billed the DHB for IT insurance, maintenance and support services from Harford-owned companies, but the services were never provided. The companies received $16.9 million in total of which Swann retained 90%, the Crown said.

The central issue of the trial is intent. Swann and Harford deny they ever intended to defraud, even if Swann did breach his employment contract.

The DHB's former finance manager, and the man to whom Swann was supposed to report, says he never heard of Sonnford Solutions.

Wednesday

Former board CEO Bill Adam gave evidence by videolink. He told the court he was aware of contracted IT work but not of the company connected with the accused Kerry Harford, Sonnford Solutions.

Some of the contracts with the company dated to his time as CEO. He said if they were as significant as they appear they should have been drawn to his attention and approved by the board. He said they should also have been recorded on the board's register of contracts.

Thursday

A DHB accountant, Murray Ball, told the court invoices from Sonnford Solutions arrived in an "unusual" manner, being personally delivered by Swann, who asked for immediate payment. He says he was told Sonnford was a dealer in software licences.

A forensic document examiner told the court all but one of the 29 signatures on cheques to Computer South, Swann's company, appeared not to be genuine.

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