Exclusive: Charities watchdog may sharpen teeth as Destiny Church lags with annual financial returns

Charities Services is looking at their approach towards "serial late filing" from charitable entities such as Destiny Church, which remains badly behind with the annual returns of three of its largest charities.

According to Department of Internal Affairs documents, a total of 15 Destiny Church-associated charities have been sent 49 notices over the last two years - which include reminders to file annual returns and also overdue notices.

The notices, released under the Official Information Act, include a formal warning saying the DIA intended to remove one Destiny Church entity from the Charities Register in December 2016, but Charities Services records show a return was filed for that entity one day before it would have been deregistered.

Department of Internal Affairs Spokesperson Steve Corbett said "we have made our expectations and their responsibilities very clear to Destiny.

Filing current and accurate financial information is a key part of registered charities providing the public with trust and confidence in the sector - Internal Affairs spokesperson Steve Corbett

"Filing current and accurate financial information is a key part of registered charities providing the public with trust and confidence in the sector," Mr Corbett said.

"We consider it a significant and persistent breach of the Act when organisations fail to file two or more annual returns at all, at which point deregistration is the usual result."

There are currently 14 Destiny Church-related entities registered as charities and of those, all are up to date with their annual returns - except for Destiny Church Auckland Trust, Destiny International Trust and Te Hahi o Nga Matamua Holdings Limited, which are overdue by more than nine months.

The three entities are among Destiny's highest earners and each last filed an annual return on September 30, 2015 for the year ended March 31 2015.

All three were granted extensions by the DIA, giving them until November 30, 2016 to file their annual returns - but those extensions are now past due by more than seven months and the annual returns are still outstanding.

However, the DIA says these three entities still do not currently meet the threshold for deregistration.

"We understand the delay is largely due to the Destiny Group having difficulty engaging an auditor but we have made our expectations and their responsibilities very clear," Mr Corbett said.

Destiny's serial late filing is a real concern to us - Internal Affairs spokesperson Steve Corbett

"Our standard process is to work alongside charities to understand any delays and help them file on time but Destiny's serial late filing is a real concern to us.

"We are now considering whether there is a need to change or strengthen our approach to more effectively apply the legislation to situations where there is persistent late filing."

In the past, three Destiny-related charities have been removed from the charities register for failing to file an annual return as required under the Charities Act.

A spokesperson for Destiny Church told 1 NEWS that "in an effort to comply with the new Charities Commission Reporting Standards, and remain completely transparent, the Destiny Churches Group is working with new auditors who are specialised in preparing the financials of charities like ours".

We are confident that we will be able to meet the Charities timeframes going forward from here - Destiny Church spokesperson

"We are keeping the Charities Commission [Charities Services] constantly up-to-date with our progress, and we are confident that we will be able to meet the Charities timeframes going forward from here."

Minister of the Community and Voluntary Sector Alfred Ngaro said that while he is not directly involved with the registration of charities, "the approach to charities who are filing late returns" is currently being looked at by Charities Services, who are "considering what more can be done to ensure charities better meet their reporting obligations".

"While the Government is responsible for setting the legislation governing the charities and voluntary sector, enforcement and decisions on whether or not charities are complying and should retain their charitable status are a matter for the independent Charities Registration Board," Mr Ngaro said in a statement.

"The Board's independence is important because we need to ensure that all charities are treated equally under the law ... it would be inappropriate for ministers to intervene in these decisions.

1 NEWS NOW reporter Luke Appleby said in July 2017 that the church tells him they’re working to file as soon as possible. Source: Breakfast



Blast safety door takes shape in Greymouth workshop as Pike River Mine re-entry looms

A Greymouth business which has a long history with Pike River Mine is responsible for making a blast door, a major safety component for the planned re-entry of the mine.

The blast door has been designed in Australia and is being manufactured by Gray Brothers Engineering.

Eddie Gray of the company told 1 NEWS  that if something goes wrong the door will drop and seal straight away.

The door will be fitted 15 metres inside the mine and can be operated from outside. 

Dinghy Pattinson of the Pike River Recovery Agency explained the door would be used if the mine had to be made inert.

"So if there's a fire or anything in your mine you have to be able to close those doors and put nitrogen in," he said. 

But it's a race against time.

Mr Gray said they received drawings for plates for the door on Monday and had Christchurch firm Vulcan Plate work through the night for them to be on a truck on Tuesday morning.

"I did say it was for Pike re-entry and we wanted to get it done as fast as possible. So they went the extra mile."

There are 104 steel components that make up the door and Gray Brothers are hoping to have it finished by the end of the month.

Gray Brothers Engineering made many of the original components for the mine.

"We've done work at the mine from day one," Mr Gray said.

So this isn't just any job.

"I think it's in every West Coaster's heart to get closure for the families. It's pretty close to everyone on the Coast, we've all got friends and families that were involved in it," he said. 

And the Gray Brothers team say they'll feel proud when their door is installed in the mine next month.

A Greymouth business is responsible for making the vital component. Source: 1 NEWS

TODAY'S
TOP STORIES

Meet Georgia Fowler, the host of Project Runway New Zealand, on the hunt for 'amazing talent'

Meet the host of Project Runway New Zealand, Georgia Fowler.

She puts her success so far down to hard work, she told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

"There have been a lot of jobs that have been like the "dream" - like the time I got French Vogue, with the biggest photographer you can shoot with, that was incredible.

"Getting the Victoria's Secret show - since I was a little girl I wanted to do that, I tried for years and years and years and trained my butt off for it and finally got it," she told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp."

Fowler was born in England, but has lived in New Zealand almost her whole life apart from when she is away in New York modelling.

She says being a television show host is "amazing".

"It's great just to be home, to be able to host a show like Project Runway is amazing.

"To actually be judging talent trying to find the new next designer is something I am passionate about and hopefully we can find some amazing talent, bring them up and show them to the world."

Project Runway New Zealand starts Monday 1 October at 7:30pm on TV2.

Sam Wallace spoke with Georgia, a Victoria’s Secret model. Source: Seven Sharp

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

The South Auckland teacher inspiring his students to follow their musical passion

For students of Auckland's Manurewa High School, the impact and influence of music teacher Tim Randle has left a lasting impression on hundreds, if not thousands of pupils.

Having been a teacher at the school for 15 years, Mr Randle has inspired his students to follow their musical passions, with his most recent group, named Mit Eldnar - Tim Randle spelled backwards - competing in the final of both the Smokefree Tangata Beats and Smokefree Rockquest competitions.

"I'm so proud, I'm the gushing father or uncle, I think it's pretty obvious heart-on-sleeve stuff from me," Mr Randle told TVNZ1's Seven Sharp.

Being at Manurewa High for so long, Mr Randle has seen a number of triumphs from his bands, although the long serving music teacher is quick to pass on any praise.

"I want to say lucky, but that's not the right word, we have wonderful kids. Ridiculous, phenomenal kids."

The feeling is certainly mutual.

"He's amazing, he doesn't get enough credit, so humble about helping all of us," student Makayla Eli says.

Mr Randle's influence has even rubbed off on his students, with Mit Eldnar frontman Sonatane Kaufusi deciding to follow in his teacher's footsteps.

However, Mr Randle says that everything he is, is all thanks to his students.

"If I am humble I probably get that off the kids." 

This weekend Tim Randle’s latest Manurewa High School group will compete at Tangata Beats and the Smokefreerockquest. Source: Seven Sharp


Auckland lawyer sentenced for helping human trafficker

They were promised high wages, free food and accommodation, but instead they were paid just a fraction of what they were promised and forced to live in squalid, cramped conditions.

Today, the lawyer who helped a human trafficker fool Immigration New Zealand was sentenced to 10 months home detention with six months post release conditions and $1575 in reparations to the workers.

In 2014, Mohammed Idris Hanif provided legal services to Faroz Ali, who was found guilty of human trafficking in 2016 - the first conviction of its kind in New Zealand.

Hanif gave false and misleading visitor visa applications on behalf of the Fijian workers, so that the workers Ali had trafficked into New Zealand could continue working in his gib-fixing business.

Hanif provided applications on five separate occasions that stated the Fijian workers were genuine tourists, who were in New Zealand to sight-see and visit friends and family, which was false.

Hanif was used to appearing at the lawyers' benches of Manukau District Court but today he was in the dock.

He maintains his innocence and applied for a discharge without conviction, saying the charges were trivial.

The application was opposed by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment lawyer Shona Carr said Hanif provided false information to authorities on who and who should not be allowed in New Zealand.

She said the vicitms of the offending - poor workers from Fiji - had spent so much on getting to New Zealand that they could not pull out of the scam because they had to try and recover the money they had borrowed from friends and relatives.

"The victims were embarrassed and ashamed and left unable to repay their debt."

She said it would not be appropriate to give Hanif a discharge without conviction when he maintained his innocence.

Judge Gregory Hikaka said the matter was serious as it involved misleading Government officials who relied on lawyers to be honest.

The judge said the workers spent their time in New Zealand in squalid conditions and returned to Fiji in debt to friends and family.

Hanif has been a lawyer since 1987 but now his practising certificate has expired but the Law Society are aware of the charges and he still faces disciplinary action.

He's also been ordered to pay $1575 dollars in reparation to the workers.

Ali, the man who promised the migrants everything, only to exploit them was found guilty of bringing in vulnerable Fijian workers and exploiting them in 2016.

Justice Heath sentenced Ali to nine-and-a-half years in prison for 57 charges, including people trafficking, which he described as an "abhorrent" crime.

Ali headed an organisation that ran advertisements in a Fijian newspaper, promising people orchard and construction work in New Zealand at seven or eight times their pay.

They were charged exorbitant fees to travel to New Zealand, but when they arrived they were forced to sleep on the floor and had rent and food costs deducted from their pay.

Suliana Vetanivula was one of the workers, and her victim impact statement was read by Crown prosecutor Luke Clancy at Ali's sentencing.

"When I go out I feel ashamed to see the people I owe in my village. When I came to them for help, they were ready to help me and in return I didn't do my part. When I returned to the village I felt like I was not wanted anymore, like everybody sees me as a failure.

"It was like I stole money from them because they know that whoever goes to Australia or New Zealand for work, they come back with a lot of money."

Mr Clancy said Ali had expressed no remorse whatsoever and owed the workers $128,000 in fees and outstanding wages. He said that figure did not include the profit Ali made from their labour.

Ali's lawyer, Peter Broad, said his client had no other money available and was facing bankruptcy after being pursued by the Inland Revenue Department for a $126,000 tax bill.

Justice Heath said some of the workers were sent to the Bay of Plenty for orchard work, where the accommodation was shamefully poor.

"Three married women and one married man were taken to a house near Pyes Pa and told they would be staying in the basement with other people. There was no bedding to speak of and only one mattress was available. This in July 2014, in the midst of a New Zealand winter. That must have been extremely cold for people travelling from the tropical warmth of Fiji."

In sentencing Ali, the judge ordered him to pay reparation of $28,000 to refund the fees the workers paid.

"People trafficking is an abhorrent crime. It is a crime against human dignity. It undermines the respect that all of us should have for the human rights and the autonomy of individual people. Such conduct degrades human life. It is a crime that should be condemned in the strongest possible terms."

By Edward Gay

rnz.co.nz

Mohammed Idris Hanif
Mohammed Idris Hanif Source: rnz.co.nz