Swney in court

The Herald reports:

Auckland’s Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney has been charged with tax evasion totalling almost $2 million.

Swney, 57, who heads the publicly funded organisation, faces 39 charges laid by the Inland Revenue Department alleging he did not pay $1.8 million in tax. Penalties of $1.4 million was also allegedly owed.

He appeared in Auckland District Court today where he denied all the charges and his lawyer David Jones, QC, did not apply for continuation of name suppression.

Mr Jones indicated the matter would progress to a judge-alone trial.

There is obviously a trial to go through, but I note:

It is alleged that from 1994 Swney provided management services as a contractor for the incorporated society while at the same time running it.

Court documents detailed the charges which the IRD said came from a failure to provide income tax or GST returns.

In September 2011, during a routine review of a GST refund claimed by Heart of the City, an invoice under the name of Security Management Specialists was uncovered but the GST number did not match that of the company.

This sparked an IRD investigation into Swney’s tax affairs.

A court summary of facts said Swney admitted falsifying the invoice and others like it but the charges were denied in court today.

If this is correct (noting the trial), then that’s disgraceful behaviour for the head of a business group.

Heart of the City board chairman Terry Gould announced today that Swney’s contract had been terminated.

“The board has already commenced the process for appointing an independent, interim chief executive and an announcement will be made in due course.

“The termination of Mr Swney’s contract last week occurred as soon as the Heart of the City board learned about allegations against him of improper invoicing.

“The board has appointed McGrathNicol which has begun an independent forensic examination of the organisation’s finances and activities.

“Due to the independent investigation, and the continuing judicial process, the board is constrained in what it can say publicly at this time.”

Those actions seem appropriate. But there will be questions about board oversight, if these charges are correct.

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