New Zealand Law Society - QC to investigate allegations against former CERA staff

QC to investigate allegations against former CERA staff

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State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has announced the appointment of Michael Heron QC to investigate allegations made against former staff members of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA).

There have been allegations that the former CERA employees used their Public Service positions to advance their private business interests. On 1 February 2017 Mr Hughes announced that these allegations would be the subject of a State Sector Act investigation.

Mr Heron is a former Solicitor-General, with experience as a Crown Prosecutor and advisor to a wide range of government agencies on complex commercial and litigation issues. He carried out an investigation into three fisheries compliance operations for the Director-General of Primary Industries in 2016. His appointment is effective immediately.

"I have asked Mr Heron to provide me with an interim report by the end of February," Mr Hughes says.

The Terms of Reference for the investigation are:

The Inquiry will investigate:

  • any actual or perceived conflicts of interest of the former CERA staff members, during their employment at CERA or their subsequent State services employment or governance roles in the State services;
  • the management of any such conflicts of interest by the relevant individuals and State services agencies;
  • any other related matter arising from the course of the investigation that ought to be considered to provide the State Services Commissioner with a complete report.

The State Sector Act 1988 grants extensive powers of inquiry to the State Services Commissioner or their delegate. This includes the legal power to require the production of any records, files or other information, require government employees to answer questions and enter government premises. 

The State Services Commission will provide secretarial support and arrange any additional resources or advice the investigation may require.