Monday, April 19, 2021

Ex-Auckland Council worker denies Chinese tech deal bribery charges


A former Auckland Council worker accused of taking a bribe from a businessman to secure a $150,000 Chinese goods deal has pleaded not guilty.

Sundeep Dilip Rasila appeared this morning in the Auckland District Court over allegations of accepting a $7500 cheque to guarantee a businessman a $150,000 deal for USB flash drives from China.

The former procurement relationship specialist at the council denied charges of accepting or obtaining a bribe, and inducing or causing another person to “deliver over, execute, make, accept, endorse or alter” the contract for a pecuniary advantage.

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Both charges were laid after an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Last month the 41-year-old had his application for continued interim name suppression denied by Judge Bill Hastings, but the businessman accused of bribing the ex-council staffer will keep his name hidden until an appeal to the High Court is determined.

It is alleged that the 55-year-old businessman offered a $7500 cheque to bribe the civil servant, court documents viewed by the Herald allege.

The businessman has pleaded not guilty to one charge laid by the SFO under the Secret Commissions Act.

The alleged bribe was over a technology goods contract for the council, court documents read.

The SFO later confirmed the goods were USB flash drives from China.

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While working at the council Rasila was tasked with obtaining quotes for the supply of the goods from prospective suppliers, court documents read.

It is alleged Rasila prepared an anonymised price comparison spreadsheet and excluded material price information.

The council then awarded the goods contract, relying on the details of the spreadsheet, the SFO claims.

The supply contract was valued at $152,520 and was varied to $140,150, allegedly as a result of the spreadsheet.

Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town earlier said in a statement Rasila left the council three years ago after the alleged offending occurred.

He also alluded to the possibility the SFO’s investigation came after a tip-off from a whistleblower.

“Despite our disappointment that a former employee of ours is now before the court, we are pleased to see that the tools we have in place to detect wrongdoing, including giving staff the channels and power to speak up, are working and enabled this to be brought to our attention,” he said.

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Both Rasila and his alleged co-offender will reappear in court on October 16.


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