Fraud and Corruption in the Public Sector

TINZ Director Janine McGruddy

By Janine McGruddy, Public Sector Strategist and Director TINZ

I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend a seminar on Fraud and Corruption in the Public Sector held by the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand (IPANZ) on the 2nd of July. It is heartening to see that the issues confronting the public sector are being taken seriously and publicly discussed, if not necessarily directly by the public sector itself. This important issue was presented by Julie Read, Chief Executive and Director of the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and used the TI definition of corruption.

As the IPANZ promotion material for this event noted “For a long time New Zealand has enjoyed a reputation for having one of the least corrupt public sectors in the world. We have been ranked in the top three countries in the world on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, since its first release in 1995.

Julie Read Serious Fraud Office

Julie Read
Serious Fraud Office

However, during this period there have been several high profile cases of fraud and corruption in New Zealand's Public Sector, ranging from nepotism to electoral fraud and theft.  Transparency International New Zealand lists one of the biggest risk factors for fraud and corruption in New Zealand's public sector as complacency and lack of awareness.”

The means for stopping corruption in the public sector were prevention and detection. Prevention through anti-corruption training, strong integrity systems, supporting politically exposed persons (PEPs) and detection through awareness of conditions that give rise to an environment conducive to fraud and corruption, identifying audit red flags and improving conditions for whistle-blowers. Advice for public servants having suspicions of malpractice was for them to report it to the highest level possible within their organisation.

There is clearly more work to be done but it is wonderful to see the level of awareness being raised by IPANZ and the SFO.

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