SFO says no union fraud

The Serious Fraud Office says it won't take up AFFCO's complaint against the New Zealand Meat Workers Union.

As reported yesterday, AFFCO complained to the SFO about what it called "irregularities" in the union's financial statements.

SFO chief executive Adam Feeley says there is no evidence of fraud.

However, he left the door open for further action, adding that any regulatory compliance issues should be considered by the Registrar of Incorporated Societies.

“We encourage any member of the public to contact us where they have any reasonable grounds to believe that a serious financial crime may be taking place," Mr Feeley says in a statement.

"However, it is equally important that the resources of law enforcement agencies are not unnecessarily drawn into matters where other, more appropriate, courses of action are available.”

The SFO says it told AFFCO and the union of its decision. 

NZ Meat Workers Union general secretary Dave Eastlake told NBR Online the decision was "not unexpected".

However, he says the union's office staff had packaged up its balance sheets in preparation for Mr Eastlake to deliver them to the SFO personally.

"That won't be necessary now," he says.

"There is nothing to hide and everything's done as per our rules and as per our requirements - we've checked and re-checked that in recent months."

Mr Eastlake described as "not correct" claims made earlier today by AFFCO chief executive Hamish Simson that union subs from different plants were paid into a central union account.  

Today's mediation negotiations between the union and AFFCO are going "slowly", he says.

AFFCO, owned by NBR Rich Listers the Talley family, has been embroiled in an industrial dispute with the union, which has seen weeks of strike action and lockouts this year, with many workers quitting the union and taking individual contracts.

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