Damn suspicious

An amazing story at Stuff:

A new business, run by a cake decorator, which had no track record in waste management won a Westland District Council project to build a $7 million sewage plant in Franz Josef, a Stuff investigation has found.

Techno Economic Services, which is based in South Auckland, won the council project in the middle of last year, despite never having provided waste management or construction services before. The company was not a registered company at the time it won the tender. It registered with the Companies Office several months after securing the Franz Josef job.

Neha Bubna, the sole director and shareholder of the company, runs a cake shop in South Auckland, specialising in birthday and special occasion cakes. She is a recent migrant from India.

Incredible.

The process was overseen by , the council’s assets manager who stood down last month as a Serious Office (SFO) investigation into his activities began. The SFO has declined to discuss the allegations against Goel.

Goel was in charge of organising tenders and supervising contracts for council projects such as wastewater treatment.

The project was not put out to public tender. It is understood three companies were approached for expressions of interest in the project. 

Even if this is corrupt behaviour by Goel, where were the checks and balances? Why was it not public tender? Did the Council CEO sign off on this without even asking what the track record of the winning company was?

Goel’s recommendation would have cost each of Franz Josef ‘s 240 ratepayers over $28,000 each, excluding the costs of running the plant which was estimated at $150,000 a year.

Again how was this approved?

The previous council approved the plan as it progressed from stage to stage, despite intense opposition from the tiny Franz Josef community. Before the contract could be finalised, a new council was elected and in November the incoming council, led by Mayor Bruce Smith, rejected the deal.

Good.

The Stuff investigation shows Goel has a chequered history, including a string of failed businesses, a bankruptcy and a Tenancy Tribunal hearing in which he was forced to pay $650 in damages to a landowner.

His companies, originally based in Auckland, included Goel Holdings, Anvik Liquor, Sai Super Mart and Sai Aden Investments.

In February 2006, Goel declared bankruptcy and all his businesses were liquidated.

So how did he get hired by the Council?

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