Police probe into missing council cars

WILMA MCCORKINDALE
Last updated 15:45 22/08/2014

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Police will investigate a suspected fraud involving dozens of Dunedin City Council cars allegedly sold and the proceeds pocketed.

Sources say ratepayers may have lost as much as $1 million as a result of the alleged activity.

Dunedin Inspector Jason Guthrie confirmed police had received a complaint from the council "in relation to a significant historical fraud matter involving the council's vehicle fleet".

"The complaint is being assessed and will be investigated further," Guthrie said. This investigation was likely to take months.

Stuff understands the council's Citifleet/Citipark manager Brent Bachop, who died on May 21 in a suspected suicide, was among an alleged network of buyers.

It is understood Bachop had been told that discrepancies had been found in vehicle numbers within his unit. Bachop had worked in the unit for more than 20 years, the past 10 or so as manager.

Accountancy firm Deloitte was commissioned to investigate whether dozens of council fleet vehicles had been sold and the proceeds pocketed.

The investigation was sparked when discrepancies appeared in the number of fleet vehicles recorded by the council's fleet unit Citifleet/Citipark.

Their investigations unravelled a vast network of vehicle transactions.

Stuff has been told this week the council gave Deloitte investigators a list of council vehicle movements through a network of buyers and subsequent owners over the 11 years.

Citifleet/Citipark chief executive Sue Bidrose said some of the money lost in the alleged fraud may be recovered.

Bidrose and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull fronted a video sent to media this afternoon announcing police were now involved in the investigation.

"At this point my priority has to be both to hold people accountable for their actions and also potentially help recover [the money]," Bidrose said.

Cull and Bidrose indicated a review of all council departments had been under way for some time to fix "problems with accountability to ratepayers".

The changes were long overdue, they said.

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