Long list of car deals

Council cars bought and sold within days, and handfuls of cash that disappeared without trace are detailed in Deloitte's full report into the $1.5million Citifleet fraud.

The report outlines a long list of transactions between former Citifleet team leader Brent Bachop, private buyers and Dunedin car dealers dating back more than a decade.

The transactions included a series of sales in which Mr Bachop transferred the ownership of Citifleet vehicles into his own name, before on-selling them to car yards or individual buyers days later.

In one case, a Ford Ranger was transferred into Mr Bachop's name in 2012, then sold to another council staff member three days later, the Deloitte report said.

The vehicle was worth $28,950, but was sold to the staff member for $18,000, and the money went directly to Mr Bachop, the report said.

The staff member later told Deloitte's investigators Mr Bachop had informed him he bought the vehicle from the council months earlier, but records showed the transfer happened just three days before the sale.

On other occasions, Mr Bachop sold directly to car yards, including seven vehicles to Dunedin City Motors between 2006 and 2012, which cost the council $132,327 in lost proceeds, the report said.

Five of the sales involved vehicles whose ownership had been transferred from the council to Mr Bachop just before the sale, Deloitte found.

Two more transactions involved vehicles still listed as owned by the council but being sold by Mr Bachop, of which the proceeds of only one sale made it back to the council's accounts.

Deloitte found cash was paid by Dunedin City Motors directly to Mr Bachop, and council vehicles were also used by Mr Bachop as trade-ins for private vehicle purchases.

Deloitte investigators questioned why Dunedin City Motors staff accepted a council-owned vehicle as a trade-in for a private purchase by Mr Bachop.

The company - through its lawyers - said staff ''cannot recall the specifics of the transactions'', the report said.

The company said it was ''not uncommon'' for vehicles previously sold privately to remain registered in the name of a former owner, and maintained it had done nothing wrong, the Deloitte report said.

Dunedin City Motors dealer principal Robert Bain told the ODT the company bought cars from Mr Bachop ''in good faith''.

''We are satisfied that none our staff members had any awareness of the fraud perpetrated on the DCC by Mr Bachop.''

Another three cars were sold to Armstrong Mazda Dunedin between August and October 2008, in each case after ownership was first transferred from the council to Mr Bachop days before the sales.

The deals together cost the council $63,000 in lost proceeds, of which most went to Mr Bachop in cash or trade-in value, Deloitte found.

In one case, a Mazda 3 was bought by Mr Bachop from the company in June 2008 for $36,250, then sold by Mr Bachop back to the same car yard just months later, in October the same year, for $29,000.

Mr Bachop used the proceeds from selling the vehicle back to Armstrong as ''part consideration'' towards the cost of a Mazda CX-7, intended for personal use, Deloitte found.

The company's processes were queried by Deloitte's investigators, but Armstrong Prestige Dunedin, through its lawyer, told Deloitte that Armstrong Mazda Dunedin had since been wound up.

None of Armstrong Mazda Dunedin's former staff worked at Armstrong Prestige Dunedin.

Four more vehicles were sold to Anngow Motors between 2003 and 2006, three while still registered to the council and one after being transferred into Mr Bachop's name four months earlier, Deloitte found.

The council received most - but not all - of the expected proceeds from the sale of the three council-owned vehicles, but none from the sale of the vehicle transferred into Mr Bachop's name first.

The transactions cost the council $14,783 in lost revenue, Deloitte found. Anngow was unable to provide documentation relating to the sales, the report said.

Anngow Motors was sold in 2007 to Armstrong Mazda, which was, in turn, sold to Dunedin City Motors in 2009.

Armstrong Prestige general manager Muir Gold said he and his company co-operated with Deloitte and police throughout the investigation, and had ''nothing to hide''.

Armstrong Mazda and Armstrong Prestige were separate companies that used to be under the same Armstrong Motor Group umbrella, but did not overlap or share staff, he said.

''I didn't work with the company then, and we don't own that company any more, and none of the people that worked in that company are employed here.''

Asked for his take on Deloitte's findings, Mr Gold said: ''I don't know. I haven't read the report.''

A spokesman for Anngow Motors said the company was ''satisfied that all transactions were both professional and above board''.

 

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