5 May 2009

Ex-Kiwis captain sentenced to community work for fraud

7:54 pm on 5 May 2009

Former Kiwis rugby league captain, Hugh McGahan has been sentenced to 270 hours community service for his role in a $2 million fraud.

The sentence has been derided as 'outrageous' by Pub Charity's Pub Charity chief executive.

McGahan was sentenced at the Auckland District Court on Tuesday.

He previously admitted taking illegal kickbacks from charitable donations intended for the North Harbour Rugby Union and Touch New Zealand.

Judge Nicola Mathers gave McGahan credit for pleading guilty, and acknowledged that he was remorseful for his actions and that his family had suffered enormously because of it.

Former All Black Doug Rollerson, ex-league star Brent Todd and Stanley Wijeyaratne have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced.

McGahan says he was naive to have signed invoices and had been misled by people he considered friends, but took full responsibility for his actions.

He apologised to the North Harbour Rugby Union, one victim of the fraud.

Pub Charity chief executive Martin Cheer says McGahan's sentence is "outrageous."

He says community service will not act as a deterrent for others contemplating this type of fraud.

Mr Cheer says this type of fraud damages the reputation of the gaming industry, which can never be restored.

The Serious Fraud Office says an elaborate scheme of false invoices and accounts were used to defraud the organisations of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which was masterminded by Todd and Wijeyaratne.

Todd was sentenced to 12 months home detention and 190 hours community service after pleading guilty to four fraud charges, along with Wijeyaratne. Todd had paid back $300,000.

Wijeyaratne was fined $50,000 and told to make $400,000 reparations.

Rollerson was convicted and freed without penalty after pleading guilty to two charges of fraud.

McGahan played for New Zealand more than 30 times, captained the Kiwi's in 17 tests, and was awarded an OBE for his services to rugby league.