Former DHB manager goes on trial for $318k fraud

9:28 am on 7 June 2017

The Crown says an Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) senior manager helped defraud the board of more than $318,000.

Stephen John Paterson and Vasu Munsamy have gone on trial at the Auckland District Court where they have denied over 100 charges relating to false invoices.

In his opening address to the jurors, the Crown prosecutor Timothy McGuigan said, put at it's simplest, this is "a dummy invoicing case".

Stephen Paterson worked as the commercial operations manager. He was responsible for signing off invoices, including security.

Vasu Munsamy was the security manager. He submitted invoices from a company called B&V Enterprises from 2006 to 2012 - all but one were submitted to Paterson and paid - no questions asked.

"In respect of each of the invoices, the Crown says that: Either the work was not done, or the little work that was done was completed by security guards, employed by First Security on instructions from Mr Munsamy who were at the time being paid by First Security to act as security guards."

Descriptions of the work were kept vague and non-specific and included overtime for Mr Munsamy who was being paid a salary and not entitled to overtime.

Mr McGuigan said an audit of the ADHB's accounts threw up some anomalies and an internal investigation was launched.

That investigation uncovered a number of questionable invoices to a company controlled by Mr Munsamy, called B&V Enterprises.

"For example, one invoice referred to the relocation of Christmas decorations and equipment. That work was done by an ADHB receptionist and First Security guards."

And there were other anomalies, including an invoice for security for Mr Paterson's daughter's birthday party.

"You've probably guessed who provided the security for the birthday bash. Mr Paterson organised five security guards and an employee from the ADHB's linen supplier to attend. The bill totalled about $1800 and yes, that was invoiced to the ADHB."

Another charge relates to scrap metal.

"A number of old hospital beds were removed from the Auckland Hospital as scrap metal. Shortly afterwards, Mr Munsamy arrived at McCamish Metals and picked up $760 in cash, money that belonged to the ADHB."

The Crown also alleges Mr Paterson had uniforms made for a social club, the invoice to the ADHB described the costs as being for laundry.

He also bought contractors new iPhones and had their phone bills paid with the health board picking up the bill at a cost of over $13,000.

Mr Paterson was suspended in July 2012 and left in March the following year.

His lawyer Annabel Maxwell-Scott said her client made no money.

"The extraordinary thing about the allegation against Mr Paterson is that he seemingly did this for no reason. The Crown say it is to help his friends but I suggest to you that, for a man who worked for the DHB for 20 years and was in a senior position, that would be extremely strange."

Mr Munsamy's lawyer Martin Hislop encouraged the jurors to keep an open mind.

"We are here about fraud and their day-to-day lives. I ask that you keep yourselves in a cocoon and just concentrate on the facts."

The trial is set down for three weeks.