Call The Serious Fraud Office

I would never suggest that Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) bureaucrats, Cotterill, Johns and Francis or their predecessors, were guilty of illegally misappropriating money provided by the government. I have no doubt that all the money provided has been properly accounted for. A qualified person has kept the accounts and a good auditor has been called in to check the work. The amount of money received and the amount spent will be accurate. The numbers will add up.

However, while the accounts may be technically as clean as the driven snow are they morally clean?  Are they pure and wholesome or is there a sinister lack of moral accountability that should concern the members?

These questions are important. SNZ has been stunningly successful at screwing money out of the government. Peter Miskimmin has coughed up big time. The table below shows the amount received by swimming in the 18 years since 2000.

Year SNZ Government Income
2000 358704
2001 348903
2002 404228
2003 456777
2004 510000
2005 1222411
2006 2307812
2007 1970068
2008 1902623
2009 1979010
2010 2038928
2011 1962838
2012 2233877
2013 2389813
2014 2495292
2015 2189533
2016 1659030
2017 1413148
2018 1176498
TOTAL 29,019,493

As you can see the total government money bummed by SNZ since the year 2000 is $29,019,493; an average of $1,612,194 a year. I bet Cotterill and his mates wish they were getting that average amount these days. $29 million is a huge sum of money. If SNZ had put it in the bank each year it would be earning $90,000 a month today. That’s as much as they got from the government in 2018. $29 million could also have bought 124 years on a cruise ship or 60,000 years of ice cream, or a Falcon 7 jet.

Instead SNZ spent it on what? Largely themselves is the answer. But what the money was spent on is not the real problem. The most stunning question is what on earth did SNZ promise to get the money? What did Peter Mikimmin expect to get for his $29,019,413?

Surely Miskimmin is not so stupid that he hands out $29 million for no reason. Consider this fact. The government has given SNZ $3 of our tax money every minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, non-stop for eighteen years. In the time it takes to read this post Mikimmin will have given SNZ another $60. Not even Miskimmin is stupid enough to do that without the expectation of getting something in return. What did SNZ promise? What are they still promising? I’m guessing it wasn’t 124 years on a cruise ship, 60,000 years of ice cream or a Falcon jet. Although this is SNZ; anything is possible.

My guess is all sorts of pipe dreams were trotted out. SNZ has never been shy about over promising. In fact there is a remarkable consistency about the SNZ fairy tale. We were told the team that swam in the Sydney Olympic Games would do well but was really there to prepare for podium finishes in Athens. Four years later the Athens team would also do well but was there to prepare for Beijing. Four years later the Beijing team would also do well but was there to prepare for London. The same thing was said about London and Rio.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Gary Francis is reading from the same movie script today. Expectations for the Tokyo Games should be modest but in 2024, just look out. New Zealand will be there to stun the swimming world. Gary Francis is a Jan Cameron verbal clone.

The reality is that five Olympic Games have come and gone since the year 2000 and New Zealand has won nothing. $29 million has been spent for no return. In the commercial world Directors and CEOs would be in jail for the way SNZ has behaved. Over-promising is a serious offence. The Security’s Act is very clear. This is what it says.

Where a prospectus, that includes an untrue statement, is distributed, every person who signed the prospectus commits an offence.

Every person who commits an offence against this section is liable on conviction to—

·        imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years; or

·        a fine not exceeding $300,000

The plans that SNZ submit to High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ) are effectively commercial prospectuses. They say that in return for giving SNZ an amount of money HPSNZ can expect to receive certain specified benefits. Arguably SNZ has included untrue statements in many of the 18 prospectuses submitted since the year 2000. Over-promising once is a mistake, twice deserves a warning but eighteen occasion is 5 years in jail and $300,000 fine territory.

The lack of results confirms that the Board of SNZ has taken the government’s money under false pretences. And that is against the law. It is no good saying, “Oh we thought we would do well. We tried our best.” Petricevic, Roest and Steigrad from Bridgecorp plus others tried that defence and ended up in Mt Eden Prison.

When you ask for and get $29 million there is an obligation to perform. It is not an option. It is compulsory. SNZ has failed to deliver against the obligations it accepted when it held out its greedy little hands and took the $29 million. SNZ is perfectly happy to pay bloated salaries and lease expensive SUVs with the government’s money. They are good at the spending side of the balance sheet. But sadly SNZ has failed totally to deliver on its promises.

There is an obvious question – why has SNZ failed so spectacularly? That is a topic for another day. However three words come close to explaining the cause – centralisation, ignorance and greed. Centralisation, because for years SNZ demanded the right to control the preparation of every good swimmer in the country. Ignorance, because Cotterill, John and Francis don’t have a clue about the product. Cotterills recreational triathlons, Johns high school swimming and Francis club age-group coaching do not equip them to run an international swim program. Greed, because the lion’s share of the $29 million was spent on administration and fringe activities such as learn to swim tuition. Performance swimming only received a tiny amount of the $29 million. Most of the money stayed inside the glass doors of the Antares Place offices. None of it made it out into New Zealand’s swimming pools where it would have done some good.

SNZ lied to get the money and then misspent it.

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