A couple who the Serious Fraud Office says defrauded Mighty River Power of around $2.2 million have been sentenced at the High Court in Auckland this morning
Former Mighty River power employee Paul Kenneth Rose was found guilty of nine charges of obtaining by deception, and was sentenced to three years and two months behind bars.
His estranged wife Jane was found guilty of eight counts of the same charge, and was sentenced to nine months home detention.
The couple were paid around $2.2 million for goods and services provided to Mighty River Power by two businesses Mr Rose failed to declare to his employer.
Mr Rose was employed as an electrical engineer at the now defunct Southdown Power Station in South Auckland, when he used secret companies under his estranged wife's name and that of a former partner to invoice Mighty River Power.
The offending took place between 2006 and 2012, during which time he didn't disclose the conflict of interest to his bosses. Mrs Rose was involved in the fraud between 2010 and 2012.
The Serious Fraud Office which laid the charges against the couple said a series of "internal checks and observations by other staff members led to the discovery of the offending".
In its sentencing submissions the Crown told the court the deception was a systemic abuse of trust.
"Paul Rose was someone in a senior role and had the authority to make purchasing decisions. You caused harm to the reputation of Mighty River Power, harm to the morale of staff and cost the company money", Crown lawyer Nick Williams said.
He also said the couple's sentence needed to act as a deterrent to others.
But Paul Rose's lawyer argued Mighty River Power's loss couldn't amount to $2.2 million
Defence lawyer Rachael Reed told the court Rose was operating a legitimate business in which he provided parts to Mighty River Power.
She argued the fraud was one of 'non-disclosure' as opposed to one of 'procurement.'
"The fraud is better identified by assessing whether Rose hiked up his invoices to take advantage of Mighty River Power. Did they rip them off by overcharging?".
In delivering the sentence Justice Rebecca Edwards called Paul Rose's offending sophisticated and premeditated, and said he was motivated by greed.
"Your offending is not victimless, it had a real impact on those who work at Mighty River Power, and those you considered as friends."
Justice Edwards read out some excerpts from victim impact statements of Rose's former colleagues.
"There were feelings of sadness frustration and anger. You brought the work achieved at Mighty River Power into disrepute. Your offending created a strained atmosphere of mistrust."