SFO's Hawkins Construction probe ends without charges

Jan 22 (BusinessDesk) -The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has walked away from an investigation of Hawkins Construction while claiming there were some "unusual" aspects to contracts in a project for state-owned Transpower.

The urgent investigation is now closed with no charges being laid.

The SFO raided two offices New Zealand's largest construction company last year in an investigation of Hawkins' work on the $419 million upgrade of Transpower's Hobson Street substation in Auckland.

"While the manner in which the parties conducted their business appears to us to be unusual, we have evidence from industry experts that it is entirely possible that those involved honestly believed the conduct was legitimate," acting SFO chief executive Simon McArley said.

"In light of that it cannot be concluded that the criminal threshold has been reached," he said.

Investigators did not find an intention to deceive, which is required for a criminal prosecution.

A genuine concern was raised in good faith but was not found to be substantiated in this case, Mr McArley said.

But he fired a parting shot at the construction industry, saying the SFO now had a greater understanding of its "nuances" and it would not be the last time it would look at the issues in this case.

Hawkins is the project manager of the Hobson Street substation project.
The building work is delegated to a variety of subcontractors managed by Hawkins.

(BusinessDesk)

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