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Alex Swney charged with tax evasion, contract terminated

Victoria Young
Mon, 06 Oct 2014

The high-profile head of Auckland business ratepayer-funded body Heart of the City, Alex Swney has been charged with evading millions in tax.

Name suppression was lifted today for Mr Swney who reportedly is denying 39 charges of tax evasion. The charges carry a maximum five-year jail sentence or a $50,000 fine.

The IRD alleges tax of almost $1.8 million was unpaid, and a further $1.4 million is owed in penalties and interest, Radio NZ is reporting. 

The state broadcaster and NZ Herald publisher NZME had instructed a lawyer to oppose name suppression but Mr Swney’s lawyer David Jones QC told the Auckland District Court this morning his client no longer sought name suppression.

Today Heart of the City board chairman Terry Gould confirmed Mr Swney’s contract was terminated after the Heart of the City Board learned about the invoicing allegations. 

An interim chief executive will be appointed in due course, he said in a release.

The board has appointed advisory firm McGrathNicol, which has begun an independent forensic examination of the organisation’s finances.

Heart of the City is mostly funded by targeted business rates and its purpose is to promote business in the Auckland CBD.

In its most recently available annual report for 2011-2012, the organisation records receiving $4.47 million in revenue.

Earlier this year the association teamed up with Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to fund a domestic tourism campaign. It also funds the Whitcoulls Santa each Christmas.

Mr Swney had been at the helm of the business association for more than a decade. In 2007 he unsuccessfully ran for mayor of (then) Auckland City Council, which he lost to John Banks.

Victoria Young
Mon, 06 Oct 2014
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Alex Swney charged with tax evasion, contract terminated