Fraudster Harford behind bars


A Queenstowner who helped defraud Otago’s public health service of $16.9 million has been given four years and three months in jail.

Kerry Harford, 48, who has reached a reparation settlement with the Otago District Health Board, was
sentenced by Justice Lyn Stevens in the High Court at Dunedin yesterday.

His accomplice, former ODHB chief information officer Michael Swann, 47, got nine-and-a-half years jail including a minimum term of four-and-a-half years behind bars.

In December, both were found guilty of the fraud, which they denied.

Harford pocketed 10 per cent on which he paid tax and GST while the other 90 per cent was paid to companies and trusts controlled by Swann.

The pair used 196 invoices between August 2000 and August 2006 to charge for IT goods and services that Justice Stevens noted IBM could have done for a quarter of the price.

He also noted some of the programmes were free on the internet.

Harford, who lived with his wife and two children in Queenstown, plans to complete his masters in resource planning while inside, the court heard.