Former Serious Fraud Office (SFO) head Adam Feeley says it would be "naïve" to think the boss of a multimillion-dollar company under scrutiny "wouldn't think about any opportunity to disrupt an investigation".
Mr Feeley has emerged as the latest alleged victim of a smear campaign which involved Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, lawyer and right-wing former blogger Cathy Odgers, aka Cactus Kate, and a man called Mark, believed to be former Hanover boss Mark Hotchin.
An email written by Slater in 2011 emerged late last week, leading to Judith Collins' resignation as a minister at the weekend. In the email, Slater claims Ms Collins – who was overseeing the SFO at the time – was "gunning for" Mr Feeley.
At the time of the email, Mr Hotchin was being investigated by the SFO and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) for his role in the Hanover's 2008 collapse.
After a 32-month long investigation, the SFO last year decided not to take any further action against Mr Hotchin.
Mr Feeley told RadioLIVE the SFO acted independently in terms of its investigations, regardless of what the public reaction would be. But he said it does not pay to be naïve about smear tactics because the "stakes in white-collar crime are immense".
"Not simply the sums of money involved, but we've seen people put away for six to eight years in jail."
However, he did not say this was necessarily the case with Mr Hotchin and others mentioned in the email.
"It would probably surprise me if someone who was worth many millions of dollars, who was involved in the collapse of a company involving hundreds of millions of dollars wouldn't think about any opportunity to disrupt an investigation."
Mr Feeley was confident the police and the SFO would be considering what actions they could take in regards to the email.
He would not comment on what form any investigation into the issue would take, only to say he'd like the facts to come out.
"If there are things that need to be uncovered then I'm no different to any other person – we'd like to know what the truth is," he says.
He says if it is proven attempts were made to undermine the police or SFO "it is almost certain that several offences could have been committed".
During his time as SFO head, he did not detect any animosity between himself and Ms Collins.
Meanwhile, Ms Collins will continue to remain MP for Papakura at least until the election, but Prime Minister John Key says if National retains power she should not expect to be reinstated as a minister right away.
However, he has left the door open for her in future.
Mr Feeley, now Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive, says he left his SFO role on his own terms.
source: newshub archive