The investigation into an alleged $1 million fraud
involving the Dunedin City Council vehicle fleet continues.
Council staff and a former councillor have been identified
among the buyers of vehicles.
Deloitte staff continue to investigate the sale of more than
100 vehicles from the council's Citifleet department - with
some of the proceeds believed to have been pocketed - dating
back more than a decade.
The Otago Daily Times confirmed yesterday about 25
past and present council staff, including former customer
services general manager Grant Strang, were among the buyers,
as was former city councillor Maurice Prendergast.
Mr Strang was a member of the council's executive management
team until 2011.
Mr Prendergast was a six-term councillor until 2007 and is
now a Mosgiel Taieri Community Board member.
The men confirmed when contacted they had bought Citifleet
cars, and still owned them.
They told the ODT they followed proper procedures at
the time and had done nothing wrong.
Council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose would not be drawn
yesterday on details of the investigation.
''This is subject to the inquiry that is currently under way
and I can't comment, but I'm happy to when we release the
results of the Deloitte finding.''
Former councillor Michael Guest - who served alongside Cr
Prendergast from 2004-07 - said any in-house sales would be a
He had heard nothing of the in-house sales until news of
Deloitte's investigation broke in June.
''I'm sure any of my fellow councillors ... if they had known
that there was some staff purchase plan, albeit informal, I
think we would have stopped it, because of the political
''You'd never be able to make it look legitimate.
''If you were going to dispose of the city fleet, to let
staff buy them is just barmy.''
A council source told the ODT the practice of selling
cars to council staff ended in February this year, before the
investigation into Citifleet began.
Details of the Deloitte's Citifleet investigation first
emerged in June, following the sudden death of Citifleet team
leader Brent Bachop on May 21.
The investigation has been scrutinising the actions of past
and present council staff, including Mr Bachop, as well as
Dunedin car dealers and members of the public, the ODT
has been told.
Mr Prendergast, speaking this week, said he bought his
vehicle - a 1996 Mitsubishi L200 utility with nearly
300,000km on the clock - for $2500 in 2006.
He had contacted Mr Bachop in search of a Citifleet vehicle,
because of their reliable maintenance records, and was told
those to be disposed of could be purchased at valuation
before they were auctioned.
''I don't think that I was the only one that had bought a
vehicle out of Citifleet.
''At the time it was a practice, or an option, that people
roundly talked about.
"If you wanted a good second car, and something that's been
well serviced, go no further than the ground floor
Mr Prendergast said he was given a valuation by Mr Bachop and
gave him a cheque made out to the Dunedin City Council,
crossed as ''not negotiable''.
''I meticulously cross cheques, so I don't see how anyone
else could have banked it other than City Hall.''
Mr Prendergast conceded the recent Citifleet revelations had
made him rethink his purchase.
''Retrospectively, it's not wise ... I wouldn't do it again,
but I couldn't see anything wrong with a vehicle that was
earmarked to go to auction.
''As far as I was concerned, it was a straight deal.''
Mr Strang said it was ''disappointing'' to be dragged into
the Citifleet debate three years after he quit the council,
but he had no regrets about his purchase.
He bought the Citifleet vehicle - a Hyundai Sonata believed
to be a 1996 model - for $2500 in 2006, after it was
advertised internally for ''disposal'' on an ''as-is,
''The vehicle was not particularly flash ... I thought it was
Mr Strang said he agreed to buy it only after seeking
approval from senior council staff and appraisals from two
separate car yards.
His cheque was made out to the Dunedin City Council, crossed
as ''not negotiable'', and given directly to the council's
finance department, Mr Strang said.
It was common for a variety of items to be advertised for
sale internally within the council.
Mr Strang said he had ''no idea'' if that included other
He had not heard any concerns about the way vehicle sales
were being handled until headlines of the alleged Citifleet
fraud began to emerge in June.
''It never came up at all. I, probably like a lot of people,
was surprised and disappointed ... in the outcomes. I just
think it's tragic.''
The revelations had not prompted him to rethink his own
purchase, he said.
''I've got a receipt. I've done everything right.''