Former employee admits taking bribes for contracts in roading corruption case as others fight for secrecy

One of six people allegedly involved in an “elaborate” scheme of awarding roading contracts for kickbacks has admitted taking bribes, while others continue to fight for secrecy in the corruption case.

In February, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) accused two former employees of Broadspectrum (New Zealand) Limited, previously Transfield, of receiving bribes in exchange for awarding road maintenance work to subcontractors between 2015 and 2018.

One of the former employees, Aurelian Hossu, was charged with four counts of acceptance of gifts by agent. This week he pleaded guilty to all four charges while also abandoning any further bid for name suppression.

Court documents show the 37-year-old Hossu was accused by SFO of jointly accepting more than $390,000 in bribes in exchange for continuing contracts.

He is due to be sentenced later this year.

The other ex-Broadspectrum employee faces three charges of obtaining by deception and 12 charges of acceptance of gifts by agent.

On Wednesday at a hearing in the Auckland District Court, he argued for continued interim name suppression alongside two of the four subcontractors allegedly awarded the work.

The subcontractors face charges of giving gifts to agent without consent of principal and obtaining by deception.

Judge Kevin Glubb described the alleged offending as an “elaborate scheme” and refused the bid for continued anonymity, which had been opposed by the SFO’s prosecutor Todd Simmonds.

However, the former Broadspectrum employee’s lawyer, Jeremy Bioletti, indicated he would appeal the judge’s ruling to the High Court. An interim suppression order was then made for Bioletti’s client and the subcontractors for at least 20 working days to allow the legal challenge to be made.

Judge Glubb also indicated a future trial for the group would likely not be heard until the end of 2023.

Court papers released to the Herald reveal further details and the extent of the alleged corrupt venture.

The SFO’s accusations against the second ex-Broadspectrum employee include accepting for himself and others more than $1.26 million in bribes.

His deception charges relate to 205 allegedly false invoices submitted to Broadspectrum which saw three other companies obtain a total of $4.48m, including one firm collecting $3.77m in 2017.

The case is due to return to court in June.

In 2017, the head of roading contracting business Projenz Stephen Borlase was jailed in what was New Zealand’s largest bribery prosecution.

An investigation by the SFO found Borlase bought-off Auckland Transport and Rodney District Council officials, including Murray Noone and Barrie George, in exchange for contracts worth tens of millions of dollars between 2005 and 2013.

Just last month, a former Auckland District Health Board employee and a company director were accused of bribery and corruption in the procurement and supply of medical equipment.

And in 2020, former Auckland Council procurement relationship specialist Sundeep Dilip Rasila was sentenced to home detention after taking a $15,000 bribe and helping his long-time friend Sunil Chand secure a nearly $150,000 Chinese USB devices contract.

Chand was sentenced to community detention.

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