State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes has today announced the appointment of Mr John Ombler QSO to investigate allegations of wrongful expenditure of public money by former Waikato District Health Board Chief Executive Dr Nigel Murray.

The Minister of Health last week asked the Commission to investigate the allegations, using the Commissioner's functions and powers under section 11 (4) of the State Sector Act 1988.

The DHB announced the resignation of Dr Murray on 5 October. The resignation happened part-way through an independent inquiry into alleged financial breaches during his tenure, which was not completed.

Mr Ombler is a former Deputy State Services Commissioner and is a skilled public service manager with a deep knowledge of the New Zealand public system. Mr Ombler has a strong understanding of financial management in the public sector and most recently was Acting Chief Executive at the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

"I am very pleased to appoint Mr Ombler," said Mr Hughes. "He is highly regarded, has a reputation for integrity and has a thorough understanding of public and financial management."

Mr Ombler's appointment is effective immediately.

"I have asked Mr Ombler to provide me with an interim report as soon as he is able. I expect to receive the report early in the New Year," Mr Hughes said.

The allegations of wrongful expenditure have raised serious questions about the conduct and integrity of a former State Services employee.

The State Sector Act grants extensive powers of inquiry to the State Services Commissioner or his delegate. This includes the legal power to require the production of any records, files or other information, require government employees to answer questions and enter government premises.

Mr Ombler will investigate and report on:

  • the circumstances of any alleged unauthorised or unjustified expenditure by Dr Murray of DHB funds;
  • any related or similar conduct by Dr Murray or any related person or third party identified during the course of his inquiry, and;
  • any processes undertaken or decisions made by the DHB relating to any matters he  identifies under (a) and (b).

If appropriate, Mr Ombler will make any recommendations relevant to the investigation, including the conduct of other staff members within the Waikato DHB or the DHB’s policies or processes.

Ends

Media queries: Grahame Armstrong 021 940 457

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