Court hears of gaps in club's records
A former Manawatu Greyhound Racing Club management committee member says information about the organisation's financial state was not forthcoming from the man accused of misappropriating government money.
Mary McCourt also told the Palmerston North District Court yesterday that the now defunct club's former secretary and treasurer, Ashoka Kant Pandey, 57, never put those concerns in committee meeting minutes he took.
Ms McCourt admits, however, that at subsequent meetings minutes were always accepted without question.
"That's something we overlooked," she said.
Pandey is on trial before Judge Les Atkins and has pleaded not guilty to two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.
The greyhound club received two grants from the Department of Internal Affairs, worth $16,110, in 2009 to allow it to build a fence.
But the Crown says the money wasn't used for that, despite Pandey telling the department the fence had been completed.
Pandey is also accused of not disclosing the club's financial position on grant forms and not admitting it was insolvent.
The defence says the club was owed money from the national racing body and the Whanganui club, so was not insolvent.
Ms McCourt said Pandey was asked about the club's financial state in committee meetings, but never revealed any answers.
"None of that was put down. It hasn't been recorded in any of the minutes I've got," Ms McCourt said.
"It was mentioned at every meeting."
Judge Atkins asked why that was not raised when meeting minutes were discussed.
"We probably didn't pick that up," Ms McCourt said.
Judge Atkins struggled to see how it could not be picked up all the time, given Ms McCourt said Pandey was asked about the club's finances at most meetings.
On one occasion Ms McCourt had taken committee meeting minutes herself, yet still nothing about questioning Pandey was recorded.
"Can you think why it's not there?" the judge asked.
"I think it's because finance was the least of our worries," Ms McCourt said.
Defence lawyer Tony Thackery asked her why she didn't seek financial information from the club's accountant.
"I never had any contact with him. The only person that contacted him would have been [Pandey]."
Another committee member, Debra Edlin, also said she had concerns about the club's finances.
"We weren't always receiving correspondence. We weren't receiving copies of bank statements and we weren't receiving a full account of money in and out."
When Ms Edlin asked to see bank statements, Pandey and former club president John Gommans would give her excuses not to show her.
Ms Edlin said she raised concerns about minutes not including everything that went on at meetings, but other people would "change the subject".
"I found it very difficult to get support at meetings because there was a climate of apathy."
The trial continues.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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