Trial of Parengarenga 3G trustee ends with guilty pleas
A former trustee of the Parengarenga 3G Trust last week admitted stealing more than $1 million from the trust.
Four days into a High Court trial at Auckland that was scheduled to run for three weeks, 61-year-old Stephen Henare pleaded guilty to five counts of theft by person in a special relationship and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice, all of which he had previously denied.
The charges were brought by the Serious Fraud Office.
Henare was remanded on bail to July 26 for sentencing.
The defendant had been a trustee of the Parengarenga 3G Trust, which managed a 512ha commercial forest, with more than 400 owners, on Ma¯ori land on the Aupo¯uri Peninsula. According to the prosecution, with the involvement of his sister and fellow trustee Margaret Dixon, 60, he facilitated the transfer of P3G Trust funds into various other bank accounts, including personal accounts and family trusts.
Henare, described as the instigator of the offending, had intentionally failed to deal with $1,083,897 of trust funds in accordance with the P3G Trust Order. He lied to the Ma¯ori Land Court in 2013 about the financial position of the P3G Trust.
Dixon, who pleaded guilty last year to defrauding the trust, was sentenced to 12 months’ home detention and ordered to pay $5000 in reparation.
The SFO said Henare, Dixon and five other people were appointed as trustees in June 2012, in place of the Ma¯ori Trustee. About $1.1 million was transferred from the Ma¯ori Trustee to P3G Trust bank accounts in August of that year. The funds were intended primarily for the management of the land and the forest for the benefit of the owners.
A further $54,480 was obtained by the trust from the sale of carbon credits.