New Zealand Law Society - Educator sentenced for million-dollar fraud that helped charities

Educator sentenced for million-dollar fraud that helped charities

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

A performing arts educator has been sentenced to 12 months’ home detention for defrauding a tertiary education provider and a Crown agency of about $1.3 million.

Donna Mariana Grant (61) was sentenced in the Rotorua High Court on three charges of ‘Dishonestly using documents’ and a single charge of ‘Obtaining by deception’ (R v Grant [2020] NZHC 98). The charges were brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO says Mrs Grant used her position in several organisations to fraudulently obtain funding from Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the Tertiary Education Commission.

It says that, in setting a starting point of four years’ imprisonment, Justice Lang recognised that the defendant did not use the money for personal benefit. This starting point was then significantly discounted due to several mitigating factors which included that Mrs Grant had demonstrated genuine remorse, she pleaded guilty and had made an enormous positive contribution to the community.

“Mrs Grant misappropriated public funds to benefit charitable organisations that she was involved in. Although the defendant did not use the funds to benefit herself financially, her offending was criminal and has damaged the reputations of several organisations,” says the SFO’s Director, Julie Read.