For the first time, a case referred to the Police Asset Recovery Unit by Auckland Council has resulted in the restraint of assets.
The Asset Recovery Unit’s function is to implement the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009 on behalf of Government agencies, where companies or individuals have derived profits directly related to their offending.
Any government agency can make a referral to the Unit.
Detective Senior Sergeant Eddie Evans, of the Northern Asset Recovery Unit, says the unit regularly works with other public agencies.
“Police are committed to working with our partner agencies in responding to and disrupting illegal activities or behaviours that are putting our communities at risk.
“In this case Police welcomed the opportunity to work with Auckland Council in supporting their important work.”
Restraining orders have now been served on four individuals and two companies in relation to several bank accounts and properties in Maich Road, Manurewa, and Rotomahana Terrace, Remuera.
Kerri Fergusson, Manager Compliance Response & Investigations says, “This is an important step for Council. We’ve never involved the Asset Recovery Unit before; this is a first, but the nature of this case is serious enough for us to take this action.”
“We hope this will be a deterrent to others that it’s not okay to make money from criminal offending and options such as this will definitely be considered with our investigations in the future.”
The case relates to a former bingo hall operating an unconsented boarding house where dozens of migrant workers lived in indoor cabins found to pose serious fire risks and with no hot water, proper heating, or laundry facilities. The defendants faced charges under the Building Act 2004 and the Resource Management Act 1991 for the construction of multiple portable cabins without building consent and the use of a boarding house in contravention of the Auckland Council Unitary Plan (Operative).
Two of the three defendants have already been convicted and fined, although one has since lodged an appeal in the High Court against the quantum of fine imposed.
The third defendant, property owner and landlord, Mr Paul Knights, is defending the charges and was scheduled for trial in August. This has been postponed due to lockdown.