AT 'bribes' were consulting fees - accused

  • 07/11/2016
AT 'bribes' were consulting fees - accused

A council contractor accused of bribing officials with money, gifts and swanky dinners has told a court a senior Auckland Transport manager he gave more than a million dollars to was a "good-value" consultant.

Former Auckland Transport manager Murray Noone, 53, is standing trial over six corruption charges for taking what prosecutors say was about $1.1 million in bribes between 2006 and 2013.

His co-accused, 52-year-old Stephen Borlase, who owned and ran engineering consulting company Projenz, is accused of bribing Noone and one other council staff, and of inflating invoices to the Rodney District Council to recoup the costs of the gifts.

Prosecutors say Noone - who managed the council's contracts for its northern road maintenance - was given about 300 payments totalling $1.1m from Projenz and about $80,000 in gifts, including 11 overseas trips that had nothing to do with work.

On Monday, Borlase told the High Court at Auckland Noone was being paid by Projenz's South Island branch as a consultant and was valuable because of his contacts.

He took the court through a series of documents, bills and emails he said showed Noone had consulted on various projects for the company.

Noone had been "instrumental" in introducing the company's staff to various councils, Borlase said.

"He was rubbing shoulders with clients and providing us with opportunities in different areas. So yeah, good value," he said.

"He was talking with clients and networking with them and passing those opportunities back to us."

In the period of the alleged offending Projenz's invoices to the council rose from $4m to $16m, becoming the bulk of its business, according to the Crown.

Prosecutors say Borlase also gave gifts to other employees at the council's transport division, including overseas and domestic travel, accommodation, entertainment, and more than $100,000 in dinners at upmarket restaurants - and then inflated its bills to the council cover the costs.

Earlier this year, another senior AT manager, Barrie George - who reported directly to Noone - was sentenced to 10 months for taking about $100,000 in gifts.

Rodney District Council was disestablished in 2010 when it became part of the Auckland super city, with its transport work moving over to Auckland Transport.

The judge-alone trial continues.

NZN