OAG’s report on defence fraud

The Auditor-General has come out with a very

disturbing report

on the NZ Defence Forces defrauding the United Nations over accommodation payments for NZDF seconded to the UN in New York.

This fraud took place over seven years, from 2001 to 2008, with “a large number of NZDF employees” [Report, page 65] aware of the fraud, whereby the NZDF “topped” up the UN housing allowance those those officers seconded to the UN, in violation of the NZDF contract with the UN.

These NZDF employees included “Services directorate staff, the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Air Force, Assistant Chief Strategic Commitments and Intelligence, Assistant Chief Personnel (A), Assistant Chief Personnel (B) and the Deputy Assistant Chief Personnel.”

Apart from the four staff seconded to the UN, only two unnamed staff have been censured, and we are not sure how severe the punishment was.

This means that “a large number of NZDF employees” including most of the senior members mentioned in the Auditor-General’s report, have got off scott free for knowingly condoning illegal activity by the NZDF.

This is not good enough.

It is all very well for the Chief of Defence Force, Jerry Mateparae to say that changes are underway. But how will we know there’s been a fundamental shift in what what the Auditor General calls a ‘command culture’ whereby staff are reluctant to criticise wrongdoing by their superiors. There’s a catch-22 for you.