Thursday, May 30, 2024

Eke Panuku report finds no conflict of interest

A report into conflict of interest policies and processes of Eke Panuku Development Auckland has been released today, reporting no clear evidence of conflicts of interest.

Earlier this year, Auckland Council commissioned PwC to examine the processes of the agency, with a focus on board practices.

“We asked PwC to report back to us on whether the policies and controls currently being used are fit for purpose and whether there was any evidence of direct conflicts of interest and individual benefits,” says Auckland Council General Manager Risk and Assurance, Emma Burke.

“We have now received PwC’s report and are currently reviewing its findings.”

Ms Burke said an initial summary of the findings showed PWC found no clear evidence of unmitigated conflicts of interest, or individual benefits arising from a conflict of interest.

“Significantly, it highlights ways to make controls more robust, as well as ensuring the right balance of professional expertise (on the board) is achieved,” she saisd.

“We welcome the report’s findings and look forward to implementing the recommendations.”

The report identified the following key points:

  • No clear evidence of unmitigated conflicts, lack of integrity or direct personal benefit arising from conflicts of interest.
  • The controls to identify and manage conflicts of interest can be made more robust to safeguard the interests of Eke Panuku and protect the board and staff.
  • Eke Panuku and the council should consider the board appointment settings to ensure there is an appropriate balance between the necessary commercial expertise, while ensuring public trust. (It proposed ways to achieve this and identified where management controls are not solely sufficient to mitigate conflicts of interest risks.)
  • Training and guidance can be improved to support effective management of conflicts of interest.

“Once council officers have reviewed PwC’s report it will be reported, and recommendations will be made, to the Audit and Risk and Performance and Appointments committees. Until then, we have nothing further to add,” Council said in a statement.

Auckland Mayor, Wayne Brown says the PwC report highlights that there is still work to be done to ensure the council-controlled organisation has good processes in place.

“This is a matter of concern that requires attention,” Mayor Brown said.

“I accept that conflicts of interest will arise given the need for boards to have directors with experience and expertise in the relevant industry, in this case property. Nevertheless, council officers, councillors and I need to carefully review the recommendations, including that the council consider appointing a minimum number of independent directors and an independent chair.

“This review will not be complete until the new year, and we plan no changes before then.”

Read a full copy of the report here: Eke Panuku – Conflicts of Interest Controls Assessment.

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