Auckland woman's bank account still frozen - 10 days after IRD's $12 million mishap

Inland Revenue and ANZ are refusing to say anything more as an Auckland woman still faces restrictions on her bank account after a multi-million dollar botch-up by IRD.

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The error has led to a “please explain” from the minister responsible for IRD. Source: 1 NEWS

The tax-gatherer put a whopping $12 million into Savana Taihia’s account, and her account was then frozen when she asked about the extra money.

At first she mis-read the figure on her bank statement and thought she had $12,000 extra.

It turned out to be much more. 

Ms Taihia hasn’t been able to buy anything since her access to her own account was blocked last week, which ANZ told her was needed while she was under investigation.

IRD has only released a brief four line statement about the bungle, confirming Savana Taihia got the surprise $12 million because of human error.

Despite the hardship being faced by Ms Taihia and questions around how it can put $12 million in a wrong person’s account, the department says it has nothing further to add.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has sought and got assurances from the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, but IRD won’t let the Commissioner speak with 1 NEWS.

ANZ says it can’t comment because of privacy reasons, despite Ms Taihia offering to sign any privacy waivers so the bank can speak with 1 NEWS.

Ms Taihia says she spent $3,300 of the money - $1000 on bills, and $1000 given to her mother to help her stay in Auckland while her father was having heart surgery.

She says the remaining $1,300 was spent while she thought she had been given a tax refund.

Screenshots of her bank account given to 1 NEWS show as much as $20,000 missing, but Ms Taihia says that much hasn’t been spent.

She says it was shifted to another account before she lost access to her online and phone banking, when she was trying to make the numbers on her screen change when she noticed something unusual.

Ms Taihia’s family says she’s being penalised for something that isn’t her fault.

“I just think that she’s suffering because of someone else’s mistake,” cousin Donielle Rewha told 1 NEWS.

Ms Rewha said her cousin had to rely on others for funds to get to work while her account was blocked.

Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden says her office “strongly encourages” anyone who feels they’ve been treated unfairly by their bank to get in touch for support.

She told 1 NEWS the Banking Ombudsman Scheme can help people find a way through their issues and conduct an investigation if necessary.

Ms Sladden said she was unable to comment about Ms Taihia’s case specifically.

Savana Taihia says she still has restrictions on her account, a week and a half later.

It means she has to physically go into a branch to ask questions, or access what funds she can. 

What IRD said yesterday:

"This was a case of human error. The $12 million should have gone to another account. The $12 million dollars has been paid into the correct account. We have tightened controls to stop this from happening in the future."

What IRD says today:

No further comment.

What minister Stuart Nash says:

"It is an unusual occurrence. I did ask the Commissioner of Inland Revenue for more information. I take this very seriously. She has confirmed to me that the payment was made through human error.

"She has given me an assurance that steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence."

What ANZ says:

No comment.