Former treasurer cleared of stealing funds from club

Last updated 09:00 07/12/2013

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The former Manawatu Greyhound Racing Club's secretary and treasurer has been cleared of stealing thousands of dollars from the organisation.

Ashoka Kant Pandey, 57, faced trial by judge alone in September on two charges of theft by a person in a special relationship.

The now-defunct greyhound club received two grants from the Department of Internal Affairs, worth $116,110, in 2009 to build a safety fence around its dog track.

The Crown said the money was not used for that, despite Mr Pandey telling the department the fence had been completed.

Pandey was accused of stealing $18,124.13.

In his recently released decision, Judge Les Atkins found Mr Pandey not guilty.

He said the Crown had to prove three things: Mr Pandey had control of the money, he knew how it had to be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of Internal Affairs, and he intentionally ignored those requirements.

While satisfied Pandey knew what he should be doing, Judge Atkins said he was not satisfied he had control of the money and that he ignored his requirements.

All money was deposited into one account by Internal Affairs, and Mr Pandey was not able to withdraw money from it. Cheques for the account had to be signed off by members of the committee, which Mr Pandey did not belong to.

"It was necessary for Mr Pandey to obtain, first, the authority of the committee members to pay and, second, the signature of at least two committee members," Judge Atkins said.

"He did not have any share in the power to make the decisions."

While former club president Peter Gommans said the committee would regularly write blank cheques for Mr Pandey to use, Judge Atkins said that was not sufficient evidence to prove the former secretary and manager did what he wanted with the money.

Pandey declined to comment on the verdict.

The club was liquidated in 2011 because of an unpaid debt to the national body.

Races in the city continue under the Whanganui club's licence.

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- Manawatu Standard

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