Hamilton woman denies $100k fraud
A Hamilton woman denies defrauding Housing New Zealand of just over $100,000 and says her dead husband looked after their finances.
Siufaga Leilua, 58, is on trial in the Hamilton District Court on 16 charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage. The documents involved are Housing New Zealand income-related rent forms, between September 2000 and December 2011.
Leilua and her husband, Leli, who died in November 2011, worked part-time as cleaners at Hamilton Boys' High School. She worked fulltime at Selwyn Wilson Carlile Rest Home.
The couple had lived in a Housing NZ house since 1983.
Dale Dufty, prosecuting on behalf of Housing NZ, alleges Leilua failed to disclose her income to Housing NZ. She was therefore not eligible for income-related rent.
If people declare their employment and earnings, they are eligible only for market-related rent, which is significantly higher.
Abhiram Dasgupta, Housing NZ income-related rent specialist, said in total Leilua received an extra $101,650 over the alleged offending period.
Giving evidence before Judge Arthur Tompkins, Joanne Tilley, Housing NZ investigator, said she discovered Leilua had two different IRD numbers. One was to receive a Work and Income benefit, another was given to her employers.
Leilua's second IRD number was under the name, Fonga Leilua, Tilley said.
Leilua took to the dock just before the lunch adjournment, and said Fonga was a nickname, or shortened version of her first name.
Leilua said she stopped working for several months in September 2011 as she cared for her dying husband.
Asked by her counsel, Roger Laybourn, why she hadn't put her income on the Housing NZ forms, Leilua said she left it to her husband to look after their finances.
Leilua said her husband was used to dealing with financial matters as he had been the secretary of the Samoan Congregation of the Christian Church in Hamilton and often helped the treasurer.
Leilua said it was also part of Samoan culture for the man of the house - or "chief" - to look after financial affairs.
Leilua said her husband would ask her to sign various Housing NZ forms but she never read them, or asked to read them.
The trial is expected to finish this afternoon.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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