Accused’s assets frozen in fraudulent invoicing case

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A FORMER Powernet employee who is accused of fraudulently obtaining $440,000 by double-dipping from the company has had his assets frozen.

Powernet is suing Joshua Grant Arthur in the High Court at Invercargill in relation to the money he is alleged to have taken.

Affidavits received by the court say Arthur was a project manager with the company when the fraud is alleged to have taken place.

Justice Rachel Dunningham’s decision, released last week, outlines the allegations. Arthur was undertaking pre-and post-earthing inspections, which he was expected to carry out as part of his duties as an employee, the affidavits said.

However, he was alleged to have also been, through his company Applied Intelligence Ltd (AIL) (trading as Structural Innovations), invoicing that work to Te Anau Earthworks Ltd (TEW), which was doing civil contracting work for Powernet.

Arthur was then said to have signed off the TEW invoices under his financial authority.

Powernet then paid TEW for the invoices rendered which, unknown to Powernet, included invoices from AIL. Arthur expressly asked TEW not to include reference to Structural Innovations on the invoices TEW rendered to Powernet, the affidavits said.

“The affidavits also disclose that Mr Arthur had discussed with Powernet the possibility of doing work for it through a separate entity, but Powernet’s evidence is that proposal was considered contrary to Powernet’s code of conduct and its conflict of interest policy and was never proceeded with.”

The reason Powernet sought a freezing order was to prevent Arthur’s assets from being sold, and to prevent him from disposing, dealing or diminishing the value of them.

These included real estate jointly owned with Arthur’s wife, who also has an interest in AIL, and another property owned by Arthur and others, as well as vehicles and other chattels.

In her decision, Justice Dunningham said some of Arthur’s assets could be easily sold, hidden or disposed of and she accepted given the allegations of covert and deceitful behaviour, the risk of assets being sold or hidden was heightened.

“I also note .. that Mr Arthur has worked overseas in the past.

“This adds to the overall picture that there is a risk of assets being cashed up and taken overseas or otherwise dissipated, particularly given the size of the claim against the defendants.”

The freezing order would be in place until a telephone conference on April 11 and would have no effect after that date unless it was continued or renewed.

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