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SFO says education consultant admits receiving $150,000 in kickbacks

05 March 2020

The Serious Fraud Office says a former employee of a tertiary education provider  has admitted receiving secret commissions midway through her trial.

Katherine Tuhakaraina (60) pleaded guilty in the Tauranga District Court to one representative charge of ‘Receiving secret reward for procuring contracts’ brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

She received approximately $150,000 in kickbacks from Koa Consultants who delivered an education course to Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi.

Ms Tuhakaraina had recommended her employer award the company the contract. She made the recommendation knowing she would get a share of Koa Consultants’ profits if it got the work. Her employer was unaware of this agreement or that the defendant had any personal interest in the awarding of work to Koa Consultants.

The Director of the SFO, Julie Read, says corruption is a priority for the SFO.

"It disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in our society and in cases such as this, undermines the good work of the wānanga and its dedicated employees. Ms Tuhakaraina deceived her employer to obtain funds provided to the education sector from the Crown. Her offending was corrupt and a gross breach of trust,” she says.

Ms Tuhakaraina was remanded on bail to reappear in the Tauranga District Court for sentencing on 5 May.

Last updated on the 5th March 2020