New Zealand Law Society - Guardian of Māori trust sentenced for fraud

Guardian of Māori trust sentenced for fraud

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A former trustee of Parengarenga 3G (P3G) has been sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and $5,000 reparation for defrauding the trust that manages a forested block of Māori land.  

Margaret Dixon was sentenced at the Auckland District Court. She had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’ brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

The SFO says Ms Dixon, 59, intentionally failed to deal with $934,270 of the trust’s funds in accordance with the P3G Trust Order. With the alleged involvement of her brother, Stephen Henare, Ms Dixon facilitated the transfer of the trust’s funds into various other bank accounts, including personal accounts and family trusts.

Mr Henare, 60, who the SFO alleges was the instigator of the offending, has pleaded not guilty to six charges of ‘Theft by person in special relationship’. He is also charged with the theft of an additional $149,627 from P3G.  

Mr Henare also faces one charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice for allegedly providing false information to the Māori Land Court in early 2013 regarding the financial position of P3G. He has pleaded not guilty to this charge.

The SFO says all the charges brought against Ms Dixon and Mr Henare were in relation to their roles as trustees of P3G. Ms Dixon and Mr Henare have been removed as P3G trustees.

“While Ms Dixon’s co-operation with the SFO has resulted in a reduction in her sentence, her offending was serious, says SFO Director, Julie Read.

“She was kaitiaki, a guardian, of a forest block that had more than 400 beneficial owners. She was required to deal with the property in accordance with the Parengarenga 3G Trust Order. Her fraudulent activity has jeopardised an asset which was meant to benefit generations to come.”      

P3G is a 511.83 hectare block of forested Māori land in the Far North. The land and its assets are managed by the P3G Trust. There are hundreds of beneficial owners of the land.

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