Fraudster Swann still faces $6m pecuniary order

Convicted fraudster Michael Swann will continue to face a multimillion-dollar penalty order on his release from prison, police confirmed yesterday.

The 51-year-old, who was found guilty of defrauding the Otago District Health Board of $16,902,000, appeared before the New Zealand Parole Board at a Christchurch prison this week, and could be released on parole within a month.

A police spokeswoman confirmed a pecuniary order of $6 million would still stand, meaning any property recovered up to that amount could be used to satisfy the order made under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Police had previously told the Otago Daily Times the order was issued because they believed there were still assets outstanding.

''Police are continuing to pursue any leads or new information that comes to hand,'' the police spokeswoman said.

The Crown to date had recovered just under $2.5 million from the sale of 50 assets, including property, motor vehicles and boatsRecovered funds have gone into the Government's consolidated fund, rather than be returned to the cash-strapped Southern District Health Board (formerly ODHB).

Swann and his associate, Kerry Harford, of Queenstown, were found guilty of defrauding the ODHB in December 2008.

While Swann's share was $15.1 million, Harford - who served just over a year in prison - received around 10% of the total proceeds.

Swann was sentenced in March 2009 to nine and a-half years' jail with a minimum non-parole period of four years and six months.

At his parole hearing, it was confirmed he had a job and accommodation offer in Christchurch following his release, with the hearing adjourned until next month.

Former ODHB chairman Richard Thomson said he could not understand why the Parole Board did not consult victims of his offending.

''He has consistently refused to co-operate since his imprisonment with the DHB and as a result has continued to cost the DHB money and therefore the people of the Southern DHB lost opportunities in health.''

Mr Thomson, who was sacked as board chair by Health Minister Tony Ryall in February 2009, said there were ongoing legal costs occurred by the DHB because Swann ''refuses to co-operate or engage''.

On Swann's likely parole, he said he wished his future employer ''the very best of luck''.

The SDHB declined to comment yesterday.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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