Press Release – Ministry of Health
Sentencing on Health Fraud Charges
Date: 29 July 2016
An Auckland man charged with making multiple fraudulent applications for health funding and carer support has been sentenced to home detention, as well as being ordered to make reparation after appearing in Manukau District Court.
Robert Varnam was sentenced on 16 charges, totalling just over $81,000.
Ministry of Health investigators said the sentence recognised the serious consequences of misusing a system designed to help vulnerable members of society.
Carer support is a subsidy funded by the Ministry of Health or a District Health Board. It is designed to assist the unpaid full time carer of a person with a disability to take a break from caring for that person.
In sentencing, Judge Andree-Wiltens imposed concurrent sentences of six months home detention on each charge, coupled with six months post detention conditions.
Additionally, he ordered reparation of $10,000 at a rate of $10 per week commencing on 4 August 2016. The judge noted that the full amount fraudulently taken involved $81,769 and that the remaining reparation was a cost that the tax payer would now have to shoulder.
The Ministry encourages anyone concerned about possible misuse of funding to call the Health Integrity Line – 0800 424 888. This is a free, anonymous 24/7 phone line for members of the public to report fraud or any other activities they are concerned about in the Health system.