Rebuild will tempt fraudsters - watchdog

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2012

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The huge sums of money set to flow through Christchurch for the rebuild could attract criminals, the Serious Fraud Office has warned.

Director Adam Feeley confirmed the SFO had been working alongside police to develop a strategy for the city, and staff had been talking to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, the city council and construction sector about the potential for crime.

Feeley said the SFO was not aware of any specific fraud as yet but was alert to the potential.

"There is large money in the banking industry and there is fraud in the banking industry.

"There is large money going down to Christchurch so it is reasonable to assume that there will be fraud in some shape or form."

The agencies were discussing information-sharing now rather than waiting to react "if there are concerns coming to light".

Part of this process would involve an education campaign alerting the public to options such as the phone-in Crimestoppers line.

"We're saying, `if you're working in the construction industry and see something you're not comfortable with, confidentially pick up the phone and talk with police and the SFO."

Most businesses were "without doubt" reputable and understood the rules of the game – but rogue employees were always a risk.

"It's about having what might be seen as a slightly difficult conversation – that is to say while 99.9 per cent of everyone is focused on rebuilding a great Christchurch there will unfortunately be some people looking to make a fast and unlawful buck out of it."

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- The Press

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