A contractor raising concerns about an unpaid invoice started the unravelling of a serious fraud by a retired executive officer from Upper Hutt College, who has pleaded guilty to the scheme.
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) laid 10 charges against 68-year-old Donald John Hancox in the Upper Hutt District Court.
His interim name suppression lapsed on Tuesday when he pleaded guilty to all 10 charges of obtaining by deception.
The SFO says between 2007 and 2014 during years of building work at the school, Hancox created and submitted fake invoices for goods and services from a number of entities.
Payments for those invoices were directed to bank accounts either linked to or controlled by Hancox.
The alleged offending covered 77 invoices totalling around $375,000.
It wasn't until an unpaid contractor raised concerns that the school became aware something was wrong.
SFO director Julie Read says it is common when fraudsters have control over the approval and payment of invoices that the discrepancies appear when they're not around.
"In this case, Mr Hancox was away when the concerns were raised and anomalies were uncovered so a specialist financial advisor was called in to work through the school's financial position. This demonstrates the importance of a segregation of duties in this area," she says.
Hancox will be sentenced next month.