Part 4: Secondment of Officer 2, and continuing with the existing arrangements

Inquiry into New Zealand Defence Force payments to officers seconded to the United Nations.

In this Part, we describe the events leading up to the secondment of Officer 2 to the UN in New York and her application to the UN for a rental subsidy. We discuss:

Arrangements made for Officer 2's secondment

Personnel branch staff, Services directorate staff, and the Military AdviserB were aware that Officer 1 was not declaring his accommodation assistance. They were also aware that the intention was for Officer 2 to be paid on the same basis.

Officer 2 started her secondment with the UN on 11 February 2003. Her NZDF conditions of service and entitlements included being paid accommodation assistance by NZDF. By the time she was seconded, the applicable Defence Force Order had been in force for more than a year and Officer 1 was still on secondment with the UN.

Before Officer 2's secondment to the UN, the Military AdviserB raised a number of issues with the Personnel branch about the proposed conditions of service and entitlements for Officer 2. He noted in an email that his view was that NZDF needed to continue the way it had been operating with Officer 1. His email was forwarded to the Director of Services, who advised the Military AdviserB:

The UN are unaware that the NZDF is refunding direct to [Officer 1] a portion of the rental cost above that provided for in the UN rent ceiling, and I strongly suggest that we do not enlighten them either in that case or for [Officer 2] (otherwise we may well end up footing the bill for the lot).

This email was copied to the Assistant Chief PersonnelB and Deputy Assistant Chief PersonnelB. On 20 November 2002, the Assistant Chief PersonnelB sent a Minute to a number of NZDF personnel (including the Director of Services and the Military AdviserB) setting out the entitlements for Officer 2, which included the payment of accommodation assistance less any rental subsidy paid by the UN.

Officer 2 finished her secondment on 31 March 2006 and received accommodation assistance from NZDF during her secondment. She also received the UN's rental subsidy during her secondment, and did not declare her accommodation assistance to the UN.

Why Officer 2 did not declare her accommodation assistance

Officer 2 did not declare her accommodation assistance because she believed that NZDF expected her to obtain the UN's rental subsidy.

Officer 2 was sent some material about her offer from the UN before going to New York. She was serving offshore immediately before her secondment. She told us that she was unaware of the requirement to declare any NZDF accommodation assistance to the UN before accepting the UN offer and when she arrived in New York. She was aware that Officer 1 was already on secondment with the UN and therefore believed that NZDF had already worked out the arrangements for seconding officers to the UN.

After she arrived in New York, Officer 2 told us that she discussed the issue of the declaration with Officer 1 and the Military AdviserB. As a result of these discussions, she was under the impression that NZDF expected her to sign the declaration. She was also under the impression that it was generally known in NZDF headquarters that this was wrong and that they knew that the seconded officers were making false declarations. Both Officer 1 and the Military AdviserB expressed their disquiet about this situation to her.

She understood that what she was doing was wrong, but believed that this was what NZDF expected of her, based on her discussions with the Military AdviserB and Officer 1. In this context, it is important to note that the applicable Defence Force Order had now been in force for more than a year, and that Officer 1 had been on secondment for two years. Officer 2 had been posted overseas by NZDF before, so would have been aware of the conditions of service and allowances that NZDF provided to officers serving overseas.

Officer 2 also advised us that she considered that she gained no personal financial advantage by receiving the UN rental subsidy. She believed that it merely reduced the amount of accommodation assistance that NZDF provided to her. As we discussed in Part 2, this is unlikely to be correct, although we saw no evidence that Officer 2 knew that she was in fact in a better financial position than an NZDF officer posted to New York would be.

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