15 Jul 2008

Serious Fraud Office stands by Hausmann decision

8:19 pm on 15 July 2008

The Serious Fraud Office is defending its decision not to proceed with an investigation into former Hawke's Bay District Health Board member Peter Hausmann.

In May, the office received a complaint that Mr Hausmann, who is also the chief executive of Healthcare New Zealand Ltd, used his position on the board to influence the awarding of lucrative health contracts to his companies.

The decision not to investigate further has drawn criticism from the original complainants, who say the Serious Fraud Office investigation did not tackle the relevant issues.

But the office's director and chief executive, Grant Liddell, rejects that, saying the investigation was thorough and canvassed all the points raised in the complaint.

Mr Liddell says his office could find no evidence of criminality on Mr Hausmann's behalf or that he dishonestly obtained any advantage in his dealings with the board.

He says that, with no basis for an investigation, the file will be closed.

Mr Hausmann says the decision comes as little surprise. He says he has been the subject of false claims, innuendo and "deeply damaging misreporting" for more than a year.

Former board member Diana Kirton, who laid the complaint, says she is disappointed. But she stands by her decision to lay the complaint, saying she did so out of "true concern for public money".

A spokesperson for Health Minister David Cunliffe would not comment.