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Ed Sheeran

Keenan fraud rocks Taranaki trust
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The chair of Te Kotahitanga o Te Atiawa Liana Poutu says a fraud by a trustee was a wake up call for other trusts in Taranaki.

Former police officer Shaun Joseph Keenan pleaded guilty last week in the New Plymouth District Court to 49 charges related to the theft of about $630,000 from Ngati Te Whiti Whenua Topu Trust, where he was chief executive.

His is contesting another eight charges.

Loss of the funds means the hapu scrapped its plan to build a marae at Ngamotu.

Ms Poutu says Keenan was a trustee at Te Kotahitanga but had no say over the chequebook.

She says Maori organisations try to protect themselves, but trust can be abused.

"If there is an individual that is tempted or wants to undertake those activities they will find a way to and the best we can do is try to put in place things that prevent that but at the end of the day it comes down to individual decisions and individual choices," Ms Poutu says.

Keenan has resigned from his job and from the trust, and Te Kotahitangi o Te Atiawa bars people with dishonesty convictions from standing.


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