Falsely using confidential taxpayer information to steal $222,000 from the government while working at the tax department has cost former Inland Revenue Department staffer Anita Gail O'Connor a two years, five months prison sentence.
O'Connor was sentenced to jail in the Hamilton District Court on 163 charges, including 24 of corrupt use of official information, relating to her use of other taxpayers' personal details to establish bank accounts and funnel money to fund cars, shopping and gambling.
O'Connor had worked at IRD since 1992 when she began offending in June 2007. She left the department in 2009. Funds continued to arrive in falsely established bank accounts managed by O'Connor until November 2010, a 40-month period.
The offending was only discovered a year after she left, when a taxpayer advised IRD that an incorrect bank account number was associated with her account.
An investigation established that O'Connor had used the names and details of other people and false identifies to gain Working for Families tax credits and access to child support refunds.
She set up bank accounts under two false names and a total of just over $222,000 was paid into those accounts by IRD over the three years and four months between June 2007 and November 2010.
Theft from the government and misuse of private taxpayer information by a tax official are regarded as particularly serious crimes in the tax department.
Inland Revenue Deputy Commissioner Mary Craig says the sentence shows how seriously this type of offending is treated.
"O'Connor's actions were a betrayal of her responsibilities and the trust put in her as an Inland Revenue employee. It was calculated and deliberate behaviour involving theft of public money.
"This sort of incident is very rare, but is exceptionally disappointing. It is a reflection on the individual, but sadly also impacts on the rest of our staff, who have an extremely strong and proud record of public service and integrity."
O'Connor admitted her offending. She said some of the money was paid to her associates and was also used to buy cars, goods and groceries, and for gambling.
IRD is taking steps to recover the money.