Political pressure mounts for independent probe into Transport Ministry fraudster case

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Pressure is mounting for an independent investigation into the handling of the woman who duped the Ministry of Transport out of $750,000.

Some are questioning the appointment of Joanne Harrison's then-boss to such a high position.
Source: 1 NEWS

Some are questioning the appointment of Joanne Harrison's then-boss, Martin Matthews, to the role of Auditor-General, the person in charge of making sure the country's public bodies are accountable.

"This job of Auditor-General requires someone to have a seriously trained, investigative mind. And what we saw in this case with this woman and all the fraud was the failure to have that," said Winston Peters, New Zealand First leader.

Official documents show staff members raised red flags about Harrison's behaviour.

"Three people were being good citizens, blowing the whistle on corruption. They got dealt to. That's what stinks about this," Mr Peters said. 

Mr Matthews left the Ministry of Transport in June last year and in November a committee of MPs recommended his appointment as the new Auditor-General.

Parliament's Speaker, David Carter, had overall responsibility for that, so Labour has written to Mr Carter.

"I think we are entitled to know what the appointment panel knew of any of these most recent allegations. But that’s a matter ultimately for the Speaker to have to front up on," said Andrew Little, Labour leader.

Mr Carter says the MPs' appointment panel carefully scrutinised Mr Matthew's background and even took the unprecedented move of calling in the Serious Fraud Office to ask them about Mr Matthew's handling of the Transport Ministry fraud case. The SFO told MPs the way he dealt with it was exemplary.

Mr Matthew's said on February 21: "I'm proud of the action I took to ensure that we were successful in bringing her to justice."

Parliament's Speaker says if he's given new information he'll consider it.

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