Identify car yards - dealers

Dunedin motor vehicle dealers are anxious to dissociate themselves from the Citifleet fraud, saying the car yards involved need to be named publicly to stop suspicion falling on all.

Deloitte's investigation of the fraud identified three Dunedin car dealers involved in buying and selling DCC cars from council fleet manager Brent Bachop during the 10-year $1.59 million fraud.

Names were blacked out in the public version of Deloitte's report to protect individuals' privacy, but the Otago Daily Times has confirmed transactions with Dunedin City Motors and the former dealership Anngow Motors were examined by Deloitte, and understands the former dealership Armstrong Mazda was also investigated.

Dunedin City Motors dealer principal Robert Bain has declined to comment about anything in Deloitte's report into the fraud, as has Armstrong Motor Group general manager Muir Gold, who also declined to comment on whether Armstrong Mazda was one of the companies investigated.

A former director of Anngow Motors, Geoffrey Anngow, has confirmed that Deloitte had examined the company's transactions.

Mr Anngow said he was not privy to the company's dealings with Mr Bachop, which were always conducted by Anngow staff.

He had ''absolutely no idea'' if anything untoward was going on, but if he had become aware of any of the behaviour suggested by Deloitte, he would have ''recognised that was not kosher'', he said.

ODT reports show Anngow Motors was sold to Armstrong Mazda in 2007, and Armstrong Mazda was sold to Dunedin City Motors in 2009.

Deloitte observed that, in some cases, money for council-owned cars was paid by vehicle dealers directly to Mr Bachop and, in many cases, Dunedin City Council vehicles were onsold to dealers shortly after ownership had been transferred to Mr Bachop.

In two cases, dealers allowed Mr Bachop to trade in a council car on a personal vehicle for himself.

A lawyer for one dealer who bought seven vehicles from Mr Bachop between 2008 and 2012, told Deloitte it was ''not uncommon'' for vehicles previously sold privately to remain registered in the name of the former owner, or be transferred shortly before a sale to the company when the vendor realised the registration had not been changed.

Staff had no knowledge of any apparently unlawful activity by Mr Bachop, who at all times appeared to them to be a trusted employee of council, they said.

Other Dunedin car yards this week called for the companies involved to be named.

John Marsh, from Cooke Howlison, was keen to make it ''very clear'' his company had no connection.

''We've had absolutely nothing to do with it.

''We haven't been part of any investigation. We never bought any cars off Brent Bachop.''

It was a smear on all the dealers in town until those involved were named, Mr Marsh said.

Mr Marsh said he understood Mr Bachop had a very close relationship with one particular dealership in town - he declined to name it publicly - and over the years Cooke Howlison had likely been disadvantaged by that.

''We haven't had our fair share of the council business, which is disappointing.''

The ODT spoke to nine other dealers, none of whom wanted to be named because they wanted no association with the scandal.

Most said a person trying to sell a car only a few days after apparently buying it should immediately raise red flags with dealers.

''It would be completely abnormal for many people to buy a car and change their mind about it that quickly,'' one said.

Others said they would want the person who owned a trade-in to sign the contract, as well as the person buying the new car.

''You need to check with the owner that the seller has authority to sell the vehicle. You have to be quite careful,'' one said.

''We're a small town. It's shocking and there needs to be some accountability,'' the dealer said, anonymously.

Another said there was no doubt Mr Bachop had done wrong, but it was ''a shame'' all the blame was landing at Mr Bachop's door when the necessary involvement of others was ''being swept under the carpet''.

''I feel very sorry for his family.''

Another hoped the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which regulates motor vehicle traders, and the Inland Revenue Department, would also investigate.

Council chief financial officer Grant McKenzie said the council had not sent the report to either organisation. All requests would receive due consideration.

Group manager corporate services Sandy Graham said a request from the ODT for a complete copy of the sections of the Deloitte report relating to car dealers was being considered under urgency.

The outcome of a police investigation of matters arising from the Deloitte report is expected in the new year.


Involvement of motor vehicle dealers

Dealership 1

• Bought seven DCC vehicles between 2006 and 2012; council received some proceeds from one sale.

• Ownership of five transferred from council to Brent Bachop shortly before dealership bought them. Dealer aware of that in three cases.

• Proceeds for other vehicles paid directly to Mr Bachop despite still being in council ownership.

• Company paid $117,000 to Mr Bachop in cash or trade-in value.

• Council loses total of $132,327 from these seven sales.

Dealership 2

• Bought three council vehicles in 2008; council saw no proceeds from sales.

• Ownership of each transferred from DCC to Mr Bachop shortly before the sale.

• Allowed a council vehicle, bought from same dealer three months earlier, to be used as a trade-in for a personal vehicle bought by Mr Bachop.

• Company paid $57,000 to Mr Bachop in cash or trade-in value.

• Council loses a total of $63,000 on these sales.

• Company subsequently wound up.

Dealership 3

• Bought four council vehicles between 2003 and 2006; council received some proceeds in three cases.

• Paid DCC directly for three cars, and Mr Bachop directly for the other, for which the proceeds never went to council.

Source: Deloitte's Project Lewis investigation report.



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