Sentences handed down in Auckland roading corruption case

Murray Noone, left, and Stephen Borlase appear in the High Court at Auckland for sentencing on corruption charges
DAVID WHITE/FAIRFAX NZ

Murray Noone, left, and Stephen Borlase appear in the High Court at Auckland for sentencing on corruption charges

An Auckland contractor and public official have been jailed for corruption worth more than $1 million relating to roading contracts.

Stephen James Borlase and Murray John Noone stood trial over eight weeks last year, after pleading not guilty to bribery and corruption charges brought against them by the Serious Fraud Office.

Borlase, a former director of Projenz which undertook contract work for Auckland Transport (AT), was found guilty of eight charges of corruption or bribery of an official but not guilty of four charges of obtaining a document for pecuniary advantage.

The offending took place between 2006 and 2013 relating to roading project consultation contracts Projenz carried out ...
SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ

The offending took place between 2006 and 2013 relating to roading project consultation contracts Projenz carried out for RDC and AT.

Noone, a former director of transportation at the Rodney District Council (RDC) and later an AT employee, was found guilty of six charges of corruption or bribery of an official.

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The offending took place between 2006 and 2013 relating to roading project consultation contracts Projenz carried out for RDC and AT.

At the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday both men appeared before Justice Sally Fitzgerald for sentencing.

Crown prosecutor Brian Dickey said the offending was on the upper end of the scale and had affected a large number of people.

It had also possibly affected New Zealand's international reputation as a relatively corruption-free country.

"This type of offending isn't shoplifting ... it's offending that goes to the heart of New Zealand's public service and New Zealand's international reputation.

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"It doesn't do well to claim good character when one has for seven-and-a-half years been bribing public officials."

Noone's lawyer Simon Lance noted that no public funds had been misused or stolen during the offending.

He took exception to Dickie's comments on the impact of the offending on New Zealand's reputation, saying there was no way to measure such an effect.

But the judge countered that argument, stating the fact that the impact could not be measured was exactly the point.

During last year's trial Dickey said Noone and George were overseeing, authorising, managing and receiving benefits in relation to contracts Projenz had with the organisations.

A culture tolerant of corruption and the acceptance of gratuities developed within the councils' roading maintenance divisions as a result of the relationships.

Dickey said Noone received payments from Projenz of about $1.1m and gratuities of $83,000 during the offending period, with the corruption arising from a pre-existing relationship between the two.

At the sentencing the Judge said there was no doubt the offending was serious.

Projenz had given a large amount of gifts to Noone and his team, including electronics such as iPads and international travel.

Noone had also been provided with more than 50 nights of Central Auckland hotel accommodation on the basis that he was having marital difficulties.

Judge Fitzgerald rejected the argument the offending had not tarnished New Zealand's reputation.

"Put simply, the public trust in the manner in which officials carry out their duties is seriously undermined."

She sentenced Borlase to five years six months jail and Noone, whose offending was described as a "gross breach of trust", to five years jail.

A third man involved with the offending, Barrie Kenneth James George, was sentenced in September to 10 months home detention for two charges of accepting bribes.

Auckland Transport chief infrastructure officer Greg Edmonds said on Wednesday he welcomed the sentences. He reiterated Judge Fitzgerald's comments that the actions of the two men were "in no way a reflection on Auckland Transport generally, or other staff".

Edmonds said robust internal processes helped to bring the offending to light.

 - Stuff

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