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Otago district health board

Minister considers future of health board chairman after $17 milliion fraud

Health Minister Tony Ryall has confirmed he is considering sacking Otago District Health Board chairman Richard Thomson over the board’s handling of a $17m fraud devised by former IT boss Michael Swann.

In a three-line statement, Mr Ryall said he was writing to the board as he was “considering removing the current chair.”

"I expect accountability in the public health system and we are now following due process," the minister said, adding there would be no further comment.

Otago Health Board fraud investigation: $16.9m siphon went unnoticed for years

Otago District Health Board officials told the High Court at Dunedin last month they were unaware of the existence of a company at the centre of a fraud case involving the alleged siphoning off of $16.9 million in taxpayer funds for non-existent IT work between 2000 and 2006.

The Crown alleged former board chief information officer Michael Andrew Swann, 46, was the architect of a scheme to bill the board for the IT work, and enlisted the best man at his wedding, Queenstown surveyor Kerry Gray Harford, 48, as his accomplice.

Otago health board fraud pair found guilty

Two men accused of defrauding Otago District Health Board of almost $17 million have been found guilt in the biggest case of its kind.

Michael Swann 47, the board's former chief information officer, and Kerry Harford, 48, a Queenstown surveyor, have both denied acting dishonestly or fraudulently.

The Crown said they had used 198 invoices from Sonnford Solutions, a company formed by Harford, to charge the board $16.9 million for IT-related services that were never provided.