The chairman of an influential business council with close links to the Government's bid for a Middle East free trade agreement is a CV fraudster.
Fairfax NZ can reveal that Michael Vukcevic - head of the Auckland-based Middle East Business Council - falsely claimed to have a law degree from Victoria University.
Mr Vukcevic was also a director of anti-corruption agency Transparency International when he lied in his successful bid for the top New Zealand job at multinational law and patent firm, Baldwins.
The fraud will embarrass the firm, which was last year a finalist in the New Zealand Law Awards for a second year in a row.
It will also embarrass the Government because of the ties between the council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NZ Trade and Enterprise.
As chair of the Middle East council, Mr Vukcevic rubs shoulders with powerful figures from MFAT - including Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
The ministry said tonight that Mr McCully had no knowledge of the CV fraud, and nor did the ministry. "It is a matter for the council. It is a private sector organisation. MFAT has a good working relationship with the council and its members."
The council's current executive includes former Young Nats president Daniel Fielding, and the vice-chairman is Auckland lawyer Stewart Germann. Former National Party president Michelle Boag advises the executive.
Sources said MFAT officials were warned about concerns within the council about Mr Vukcevic over a deal he did without initial council knowledge.
Senior figures in the council have been told of the false claims in the CV.
Mr Germann said today that he was not aware of any problems with Mr Vukcevic's CV and therefore MFAT and Mr McCully had not been informed. He said The Dominion Post appeared to "be in possession of information of which I am unaware so I am unable to comment further."
Ms Boag said in the two years she had been at the council there had never been a complaint about his CV.
The council says it has "a particularly close relationship" with MFAT and NZ Trade and Enterprise.
It hosts and co-hosts, sometimes with MFAT, visiting Government delegations and trade missions from Middle Eastern nations.
MFAT officials are currently finalising a free trade agreement with several of New Zealand's most important Middle Eastern markets.
The New Zealand-Gulf Cooperation Council agreement, if ratified, will improve access to six countries and rank as our seventh-largest trading partners bloc.
Mr Vukcevic used the fictitious degree to become chief executive at Baldwins in 2012.
He resigned in November last year citing "personal reasons".
Baldwins partner Philip Thoreau said: "Michael left for personal reasons and that's all I can say."
Victoria University has confirmed Mr Vukcevic's only qualification from Victoria was a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Mr Vukcevic has not responded to multiple approaches asking for an explanation.
His seven-page CV also includes a claim he was a director for a recruitment firm. That claim is also false.
Mr Vukcevic's CV describes him as a "dynamic Chief Executive with a proven track record of success."
It says his experience is across large public and corporate companies, private companies and Government.
Under the education, the CV claims Mr Vukcevic obtained a law degree and a BA from studying at Victoria from 1989 to 1992.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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