Ministry of Social Development v Singh [2017] NZDC 27494

Published 12 October 2018

Benefit fraud — using a document to obtain a pecuniary advantage — dishonestly using a document — dishonestly accessing a computer system with intent — knowingly providing false information — MSD employee — sentencing. The defendant was sentenced on 51 charges relating to benefit fraud that occurred whilst he was employed by the Ministry of Social Development. The offending included the defendant creating fictitious beneficiaries and documents to obtain benefits between 1999 and 2011. The defendant then accessed the Ministry's computer system to amend and review the records for his fictitious beneficiaries. In total, the defendant received an estimated $358,866 in benefits from the Ministry of Social Development. Claims were also made to Inland Revenue for Working for Families tax credits causing the defendant to be paid $21,123.97 over the course of four years. The court took into account the duration of offending, the level of sophistication, premeditation, the significant breach of trust involved. $265,577.24 of the funds had been recovered under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act, which the court acknowledged should be taken into account. Discounts were given for the defendant's guilty plea, time spent on remand and lack of previous convictions. The defendant was sentenced to two years and nine months' imprisonment. Judgment Date: 14 September 2017.