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Economic crime

Written By: - Date published: 12:08 pm, February 13th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: benefits, class war, crime, law, scoundrels - Tags:

Yes, the Nat’s economic policies are a crime against common sense and the vast majority of the people. But currently in the news is the other kind of economic crime – white collar crime – fraud and tax evasion. We have a new report on the impact:

Economic crime costs NZ billions each year, Govt reveals

White collar frauds and economic crime costs the country billions of dollars each year, government officials have concluded.

Minister for the Serious Fraud Office Anne Tolley said many Ministries had been working for two years on a Cost of Economic Crime report that was due to be presented to cabinet soon.

Tolley, speaking at the inaugural Economic Crime Action Network meeting in Auckland yesterday, said: “Economic crime can range from pro forma invoicing schemes that drain the resources of small businesses and charities, to Ponzi schemes, to fraudulent finance companies that destroy the retirement savings of a generation.”

She said the report was unable to generate a firm methodology to precisely calculate the annual cost, but officials had concluded the cost was “likely to be in the region of many billion of dollars per year.”

Billions. Per. Year. (Similar to previous estimates of $1 to $6 Billion.) And where does National put its energies? Into chasing the comparatively insignificant problem of welfare fraud ($22 Million in a typical year). Where does the court system put its priorities? They like to jail welfare fraudsters more often than the (150 times more damaging) tax dodgers.

Our priorities as a country are completely screwed. If we put as much energy into cracking down on economic crime as we did chasing welfare cheats – we could afford a proper welfare system…


34 comments on “Economic crime”

  1. Tiresias 2

    “Where does the court system put its priorities? ”

    The Courts can only act on what is brought to them.

    ““Economic crime can range from pro forma invoicing schemes that drain the resources of small businesses and charities, to Ponzi schemes, to fraudulent finance companies that destroy the retirement savings of a generation.” – Tolley.

    None of these represent a direct loss to the Exchequor – or even the country. They’re merely a re-distribution of wealth from the worthy to the unworthy. On the other hand Welfare fraud is direct theft from the Exchequor – although that doesn’t cost “New Zealand” anything either.

    While I’m all in favour of cracking down on financial fraud as much as welfare fraud the only thing that can be said to cost “New Zealand” billions is tax avoidance as this represents income lost to the Exchequor.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      The Courts can only act on what is brought to them.

      But why do they jail someone for a few thousand dollars of benefit fraud while white-collar criminals who steal millions get community service?

      • Colonial Weka 2.1.1

        What do the sentencing guidelines say?

        • aerobubble

          More context please. A person eligible for a benefit may mislead to get more than their fair entitlement. They are then asked to repay the full amount include what they were entitled too plus tax (brought in by Labour to boost the cost of welfare and so beat up on them). So its unfair to say that people who screw themselves by defrauding the Exchequer of a small percentage of their entitlement and yet lose their full entitlement for the period of the fraud are actually costing the exchequer, in fact its a saving the exchequer who has a vested interest in create and catchin gthe fraud and lowering the obligation to the exchequer. Pushes the cost on to family of the fraudster (who pick up the slake), crime, and poverty (disease). So really in some cases its looks like a bookkeeping windfall but actually is a long term additional cost, even generational hole (and we haven’t even started on the cost of imprisoning the poor sap). I mean a person lies and to get a few extra dollars a week, and has pay back thousands (which courts then stretch out over their lifetime or wipe off), and some idiot neo-liberal penny count thinks its a win.

          Please. People are now arguing that the crime of benefit fraud is meaningless by implication, as a negative income for everyone essentially makes the fraud impossible to commit.

          So I laugh when I hear some National voting, ponsi investor who lost their shirt, who was worried about benefit fraud and let National and Labout ignore the white collar crime binge
          that is the hallmark of the last 30 years of western capitalism. Its a giant pyramid scheme,
          to get in you argue that all that matters are profits, if you got in early you walked away with countless millions, as everyone below you gave up wages, borrowed, and funneled their money into the financial system – without any extra wealth creation, just booking keeping bubble markets.

        • QoT

          Who wrote the sentencing guidelines?

  2. Rogue Trooper 3

    read about the high, actual “body count” implications of ponzi financial fraud, ala Madoff, the other day.; These frauds take livesfar less cleanly than “crimes of passion”.

  3. infused 4

    It’s say because they are very hard to crack and take huge amounts of time / resources.

    Macleans IT did a Phoenix last year (most probably, illegally) and the serious fraud office said they had no time to investigate.


    Whole thing stinks.

    • quartz 4.1

      Ha! The liquidator in that dodgy deal was Damien Grant. Classic.

    • fatty 4.2

      It’s say because they are very hard to crack and take huge amounts of time / resources.

      But if we are talking billions of dollars – surely the time & resources argument would mean that we can’t afford to ignore it?

  4. tc 5

    Oz learned that lesson in the 90’s after Skase/Bondy etc and recruited top talent, paid them, gave them sweeping powers and went after them hard. Ex WA premier Brian Bourke being a good example.

    Shonkey’s mob will never go after mates, Feeny’s paid to talk a good game with no players and a new rule book, as ineffective as the last one, the corporate crooks laugh at.

    The white collar crooks influence &/or are the rule makers via various groups and report writers so they’re always one step ahead, they can also afford the better resources to keep the authorities at bay.

    Trolley gets whelled out to perform for the crowd again.

  5. just saying 6

    Didn’t this government reduce resources available to the Serious Fraud Office?

    Must have been another example of reducing the costs for their mates, of doing business in NZ 🙂

    Some of the statements made by the judicary when sentencing benefit fraudsters recently should have drawn the attention of the Human Rights Commission, (if we actually had such a watchdog, rather than the facade of one.) It is, in theory, unlawful to discrimate against people on the grounds of employment status. The sentences given to beneficiaries, compared to those given to big league fraudsters, provide further evidence of discrimination.

  6. I appear to have a theme going on today:

    “But what is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding words in their mouths.”
    ― Edmund Burke (1729-1779)

  7. Rogue Trooper 8

    at least it’s not burqa 😉
    anyway, from over at Hedge (junk bonds are piling up)

    • RedLogix 8.1

      An interesting and “why am I not surprised” read there RT. The bedrock of any economic system, indeed of all human affairs, is trustworthiness. Without it everything grinds to a halt.

      This is also the reason why major economic crimes are downplayed and minimised … the establishment instinctively understands that these stories of white collar fraud and bank fraud undermine this essential trust … and that there is a tipping point (no-one knows exactly where) when the system collapses.

      And I wouldn’t discount the collusion of ordinary people in this either. Most people understand at some level that if the system collapses everything changes … and probably not in a good or comfortable way. So most people are quite willing to be outraged at some beneficiary diddling a few thousand, while remaining apathetic about billions looted by bankers.

      • Rogue Trooper 8.1.1

        your work is consistently outstanding Red (any feedback for a mutt like me?)

        • RedLogix

          RT … thanks. But I’m so humourless about it. Not my strong point; which is why it’s a team effort.

          And along the way I’ve been handed my arse by a few masters.

  8. johnm 9

    This shit sit now reflecting on ordinary kiwis who continue to vote for the key fantasy of wealth while ignoring the poverty of their brothers and sisters. The beginning of a shit society of alienation and inequality. Well done you kiwi fools. You want to fuck the key fantasy but’ll disappear soon enough you stupid fucks. 🙁

    • Mary 9.1

      “The beginning of a shit society of alienation and inequality.”

      Maybe a bit further on now than merely the beginning but yes, what’s been going on for the last 30 years or so has alienated and increased inequality. The market will decide thinking that’s caused much of this ignores everything about humans – how we think, act, react, decide, make mistakes, care, love, value and so on. Ignoring this basic premise makes what Key et al are doing, as well as former Labour governments, of course, morally wrong. But I guess when greed’s involved there’s no room for morality or what’s right, regardless of the truest truth. It’s so interesting looking at Key’s eyes when he’s talking in front of a camera. He’s just got no idea about people, which I suppose may account for thow he comes across as just not caring.

      • xtasy 9.1.1


        “The market” is so often cited and quoted, in media, and certainly by government.

        But what does “the market” really mean. I any case, there is not, nor has there ever been a totally free and equal “global” market. It is all much talk about hypothetical and pseudo idealistic scenarios that never eventuated, nor will they ever do so.

        “Market” means anything, like a small market, a selected market, a larger market, a regional market, a town market, a trade related market, a social market, and then of course the “global market”.

        We get this “market” argument drummed down our throats day and night, as the final and total elixier of beneficial development, to make us all better off.

        In reality it is a farce, a slogan, an empty phrase in many cases, as few “markets” are real fair and free markets.

        NZ is part of a global market where it sold so many rights and restrictions, the other players have more clout and can demand what they want, while little NZ is having to bend and buckle all the time, to justify a trade relationship.

        It has become idiotic, but we have governments still tell us, we must do this, we must sell assets, land and lower workers rights, otherwise we will not survive as an economy. That is in a world hanging out for food, sound and clean environment, where millions of workers and entrepreneurs would love to come and migrate here.

        Tell us another story dumb Hone Key, you are not convincing. NZ will never starve or suffer, it will be in high demand even with fair and good wages and salaries, because too many other countries have been stuffed up, so many want to come her, no matter how expensive it is.

        Your argument is BS, John Key, same as your government, what NZ needs is a fair solution, so locals also get a fair chance and life, that is what Kiwis ask you and others for.

        And last not least, you run an oligopoly economy, where a few players suck us all dry, while we are ripped off with over above average world prices for consumer goods, food and housing. F that, thank you, JK!

  9. Afewknowthetruth 10

    Barclays rigging LIBOR

    HSBC laundering Mexican drug money.

    HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds, RBS selling fraudulent financial packages.

    Fraud at the top is the new norm.

    • pollywog 10.1

      Double Dipton is the new black…which is the same as the old black.

      Nzers need to aspire to being greedy and selfish. Fuck being middle class. It’s the predator class we should aspire to become.

  10. tracey 11

    when the courts or kangaroo tribunals get their chance… they let us down


  11. tc 12

    We should add the billions this govt is about to rip off kiwis by selling the assets on the block.

  12. Afewknowthetruth 13

    Ned Kelly was right.

    That’s why they hanged him.

  13. xtasy 14

    White collar crime – trivial side issue

    Welfare “fraud” (usually overpayment due to failure to report change of circumstances on time) – SERIOUS!

    That is the equation, and it will not change. Tolley is a hypocrite, same as Key, going on about this stuff, she only talks about it, because her job requires her to show her face and say something.

    It is the international organisations that are more forceful and honest. They should actually conduct a major, independent, internationally staffed investigation in the corruption that involves the Key government here!

    They may come across some surprising results after all.

    Given deals like the convention centre to be built by Sky City Casino for a good return perk, the Hollywood deal for allowing movie companies here to get tax credits and favourable working conditions, the dodgy deal about refugees to be accepted from Australia, the dealings Mr joyless Joyce made re Mediaworks, the peculiar workings about how to assist Hollywood and the US agencies to prosecute outside of the law a Dotcom entrepreneur, the bizarre way the Southern China Airways deal was allowed with Sky City Casino (compromising immigration rules), the Crafar Farm deal, the other various “foreign investment” consents, and much, much more, I think NZ has a heck of a lot to answer to, but where is the bloody accountability?

    Key is not the PM I ever wanted, but sadly a majority of emotionally “drunk” public voters voted the great shownman in. That kind of event is usually the first warning sign for any society, where Transparency International starts taking a serious focus.

  14. BLiP 15


    . . . Given deals like the convention centre to be built by Sky City Casino for a good return perk, the Hollywood deal for allowing movie companies here to get tax credits and favourable working conditions, the dodgy deal about refugees to be accepted from Australia, the dealings Mr joyless Joyce made re Mediaworks, the peculiar workings about how to assist Hollywood and the US agencies to prosecute outside of the law a Dotcom entrepreneur, the bizarre way the Southern China Airways deal was allowed with Sky City Casino (compromising immigration rules), the Crafar Farm deal, the other various “foreign investment” consents, and much, much more, I think NZ has a heck of a lot to answer to, but where is the bloody accountability? . . .

    Righteous rant, comrade, and you have, fer sure, picked up some of the headline issues that need closer inspection, and asked the right question. Thing is, there is no accountability. These days, being able to “game” the system and rort the punters is looked upon as being sharp business practise, carried out every day by John Key’s aspirational neophytes, complete with knowing winks, sly smiles and a firm “fuck you” to anyone who might complain about it. Get in while you can, is the rallying cry. Even our farmers have taken John Key’s message to heart and, in their haste to be ashpurashnul have tried their hand at the financial derivatives market. Of course, John Key was just delivering the naive into the hands of the venal.

    The aspiration message from John Key ignores the fact that he managed to accumulate $50 million without producing a single widget or millking a single cow. His first three years in office have resulted in the under-resourcing and under-mining all regulatory authorities to the point of stasis. Right now, its game on for every to come up with their own wangle and this latest report ain’t gonna change a thing.

  15. Afewknowthetruth 16

    By the way, THE ECONOMY, as presently constituted (looting of fossil fuel resources by corporations and converting them into CO2, thereby progressively destroying the habitability of the Earth) IS A CRIME against the next generation, who a decade from now will have to attempt to scratch a living on a resource=depleted and overheated planet.

    The economy is a crime and it is run by criminals.

  16. ChrisH 17

    Check out the theory of “control fraud” on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Control_fraud. Foxes guarding the henhouse. One hopeful sign is that the IMF has appointed George Akerlof, an expert on what he calls “looting”: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2011/06/people.htm

    • Colonial Viper 17.1

      Yep, I learnt about the phenomena of Control Fraud by listening to William (Bill) Black online. He was a prosecutor during the S&L crisis of the 1990s.

  17. Red Rosa 18

    The NBR has some interesting comments on Dame Shipley and Mainzeal


    Trading while insolvent?

    Conflict of interest?

    Sure as hell looks like both.

    And say what you like about Winnie (mostly justified of course!) he again seems to be onto it.

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