SSC slams former CERA employees

Great to see such a strong response from the into the private business dealings of two former employees. Commissioner Peter Hughes said:

Mr Heron’s investigation found serious and sustained breaches of the applicable standards for which an employment process would follow if Mr Gallagher and Mr Nikoloff were still employed by CERA.

Mr Gallagher and Mr Nikoloff were found to have been using a private company (PIML) to attempt to participate in a business deal for personal gain, relating to the same property (273 Manchester St) and with the same parties they were engaging with in their public capacity as CERA employees. They did not disclose their personal interest to parties involved in the potential transaction or to their employer.

This created a clear conflict of interest which they were aware of and should have disclosed to CERA, however they did not do so.

“I consider their actions to be serious misconduct that is unacceptable in the New Zealand Public Service,” Mr Hughes said.

“If these two individuals were still employed by CERA I believe there would be strong grounds for terminating their employment,” he said.

“I am unable to direct State sector employers when making employment decisions, however based on what I have seen in Mr Heron’s report, if it were up to me I would not employ these individuals,” Mr Hughes said.

And then the big kicker:

“I also decided to refer the results of the investigation to the Serious Fraud Office to consider whether any of the activity is of a potentially criminal nature that requires further investigation,” said Mr Hughes.

Ouch.

Well done to Fairfax for bringing this issue to public attention.

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