Man at Helm of COVID Response Team Arrested at Airport, Accused of Dishonestly Obtaining $1.4M

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A man accused of dishonestly obtaining just over $1.4 million of government funds during his time at the helm of a COVID response team was arrested at an airport as he was about to embark on a $92,000 holiday.

Alister Thorby was contracted by Capital and Coast District Health Board (the DHB), now known as Te Whatu Ora Capital, Coast and Hutt Valley, between October 2021 and June 2022 for work as the Covid-19 response lead.

It was his job to arrange staffing at Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) facilities within the area but the Crown is now alleging Thorby did not provide around $1.4m worth of services he had invoiced the DHB for.

Thorby, whose company Moutoa Māori Wardens, trading as AT Consulting and Logistics Ltd, had the DHB contract, is now facing 12 charges of obtaining by deception.

As the case moves through Palmerston North District Court, the former real estate agent, who worked in both New Zealand and Australia, can now be named after the interim name suppression order protecting his identity recently lapsed.

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Thorby has entered not-guilty pleas to the charges and is scheduled to return to court later this month.

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