Auditor-General probes former SFO boss Feeley's housing accord

The requests raise "issues of trust and confidence" in council processes and issues about how council officers participate in these processes, the audit office says.

See also: Auditor-General probes Feeley's Queenstown dealings

Auditor-General Lyn Provost has launched an inquiry into how Queenstown Lakes District Council and its chief executive, former Serious Fraud office boss Adam Feeley, managed his interest in family-owned land being considered by the council for a special housing area.

The Office of the Auditor-General had previously said it was comfortable with the steps Feeley proposed to manage any conflicts. But since then several people had approached the office with queries on Feeley's involvement, including what hand he played in developing the housing accord and the council's policy before he declared an interest.

The requests raise "issues of trust and confidence" in council processes and issues about how council officers participate in these processes, the audit office says. It decided on a formal inquiry.

The council agreed a housing accord with the Minister of Housing in October last year aimed at building up to 1300 affordable houses in the area, with a particular focus on the Wakatipu Basin. A week later the council adopted a policy setting out its criteria and process for assessing expressions of interest for special housing areas. It called for expressions of interest in early November.

In late November, Feeley advised Mayor Vanessa van Uden =his family intended expressing an interest in creating a special housing area on land it owned. He outlined steps on how the council could manage his interest in the matter. That included him withdrawing from discussion on the issue at council meetings and being excluded from any working group.

His family subsequently submitted an expression of interest in December.

At Feeley's suggestion, the mayor advised the Auditor-General's office about the conflict, the steps he proposed, and sought advice on any additional steps needed.

Feeley resigned three years into his five-year appointment as head of the Serious Fraud Office in 2012 to take up the Queenstown job. He was at the centre of an uproar over whether he was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater and then-Justice Minister Judith Collins, who was forced to resign from the cabinet.

Feeley had apologised to Collins in 2011 for causing “unnecessary embarrassment” after opening a bottle of wine that had belonged to failed finance company Bridgecorp.

(BusinessDesk)

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