Gerry Brownlee

Gerry Brownlee is the minister in charge of EQC.  He may not work for EQC, but he definitely deserves to be mentioned as one of the EQC Royals.

Gerry has a colourful background.  He played rugby growing up and was a school bully when he went to St Bede’s.  He also bullied a disabled student that was much smaller than him.

Gerry eventually managed to teach woodworking at St Bede’s.  A student of Gerry’s says, “Gerry was very lazy and dumb.  He was supposed to know woodworking, but he was clueless.”

Another student says, “Gerry used to order pizzas to class.  The rubbish bins also had empty beer bottles.”

Most people don’t know about Gerry the alcoholic. One man says, “I went to work one morning and I saw Gerry Brownlee outside the pub, hung over, and just making a fool of himself”.

Gerry is an angry drunk.  Some people are drunk and funny, but Gerry is drunk and violent.

Back in 1999, Gerry Brownlee assaulted a man named Neil Able, a forest conservation campaigner.  Brownlee threatened to throw the small man down a staircase.  A judge eventually awarded Able $8,500 in civil damages.

What most people don’t know was that Gerry tried to get the taxpayer to pay his $48,000 legal bill in that case under a programme that allows MPs to claim legal fee reimbursements when they have to pay legal bills through their work as MPs.  Parliament declined to pay the money because the activity happened when Brownlee was campaigning for office not in his official role as an MP.  Still, Brownlee is a cheap bastard that wants others to pay for his lunch.

Most people in NZ are afraid of Gerry, including me.  If you criticise Gerry, he will find a way to sabotage you.

Gerry shows his corruption in other ways.  He was a director of NZ Casino Services Ltd, a company that defrauded investors of more than $3 million dollars.  Not only was he a director, he was a founding director of that company.  Gerry’s excuse is that “I didn’t do my research at all.”

Despite being corrupt, John Key put him in charge of the rebuild.  Some people think the real reason was that John Key wanted to get rid of a rival.  He knew that Gerry was incompetent, so the best way to taint him politically was to put the lazy bugger in charge of the rebuild and watch him fail.

Other people believe that John Key never wanted to pay people their just entitlement because it would put an end to his dreams of a budget surplus in 2014-2015.  These people think that John Key put Gerry in charge because he needed a strongman to cheat people out of their claims.  Gerry was a bully and the NZ government needed a bully to cut the claims payout by stalling claims and exhausting people into taking a lower payout.

Gerry was not competent or very intelligent.  “He’s barely functionally literate”, said one man.  “He is lazy and thick”, says another.

Reid Stiven and Barry Searle convinced Gerry to have Fletchers do repairs to houses instead of cash settling claims the way EQC had always done.  Gerry knew nothing about public policy or EQC because Bill English was the previous EQC minister.  However, Gerry did want to get money flowing to the right people.  National have a cosy relationship with Fletchers, so he was happy to grease the hands of his friends at Fletchers.

Gerry did pressure Fletchers into prioritising repairs for those in his district in time for the 2011 elections.  Gerry knew that the east of Christchurch always votes for Labour, so he didn’t care if those people were stuck waiting.

EQC was also happy to help pad the numbers and focus on the easier repairs.  EQC could say that they were doing a good job and Gerry could sell the idea that EQC were making progress to the rest of New Zealand.  Meanwhile, people in TC3 and so on were stuck waiting.

Gerry also was keen to Red Zone, but his reasons were more sinister.  Gerry figured the Crown could buy the land and houses cheaply and eventually sell them to the right people at a major profit.  Many of the houses in the Red Zone were worth more than their rateable value, so central government will eventually get a profit.

One person also reports that Gerry has been using the names of his wife and children to buy properties in TC3.  He then gets Fletchers to prioritise the repairs and sells the properties at a profit.  The person that says this did not want to include his name because he was afraid of retaliation.

Gerry is a corrupt bastard.  The only way to get rid of him is to vote him out of office next year.

Graeme Robinson

Graeme Robinson is one of the lieutenants of Barry Searle’s Napier mafia.  He hails from Napier, but he came down to Christchurch to make some huge bucks.

Graeme has worked with EQC for more than thirty years and he is known as the engineer from hell.  His job was to go to houses and justify EQC’s reasons for not paying.  No one has ever received a fair inspection from Graeme.  The nickname given to Graeme is “The Hammer”.

Earlier in the year, the EQC Truths blog offered money to anyone that could produce a report from Graeme Robinson showing that he classified damage as earthquake related.  No one came forward to show that Graeme produced a report

Graeme has done over 2,000 assessments and EQC has paid him $1,500 per day.  He is the only person at EQC on permanent contract.  When EQC moved its loss adjusters from contract to an hourly rate, Reid Stiven and Barry Searle kept Graeme on contract so he could get more money.

Graeme wrote a paper in 2010 where he said that some claimants had a “propensity of some to claim for earthquake damage when the damage was pre-existing”.  EQC loved his mindset.

When Graeme goes to a house, he rarely inspects the entire building.  “He came here for only about ten minutes and never looked at the foundation”, says one distraught claimant.

Several claimants described Graeme as “arrogant” and “aggressive.”  One said that Graeme threatened them with sabotaging their claim if they continued to question him.

When Graeme does assessments, he usually just spends a few minutes and does a cursory look.  He never uses any tools.  He simply walks around for a few minutes and then goes away.

An unnamed assessor said, “It reminded me of when ACC brought in their assessment team where they had a sudden spike of ACC claimants who were deemed to have pre-existing conditions”.

Another claimant says, “He was very rude to me and my husband.  He just came and told us we were lying about the damage.  We remodelled the house four months before the earthquake”.

We have received some of Graeme’s reports.  They all look identical to each other.  They are written from a template and he always says the damage is historical or pre-existing.

EQC have made it impossible for claimants to get their reports from Graeme Robinson.  “Most of the time, they refuse to release it and make the claimant go through the OIA.  It’s all about making things as hard as possible for the claimant so EQC can settle for less”.

An EQC person says, “Reid Stiven told us to make it difficult for claimants to get their reports.  Reid often told us not to scan the reports on the file so claimants couldn’t find them even if they put through an OIA request.”

Graeme has always overstated his credentials.  He falsely told people at EQC that he belonged to the team that wrote the Building Act.

Back in 2006, Graeme designed a retaining wall that ended up collapsing.  The couple that owned the house, Bernard and Frances Walsh, sued Graeme.  EQC ended up settling with them out of court for $140,000, although EQC initially offered a lowball offer of $30,000.

EQC decided not to reinstate the wall because Graeme did not follow the Building Act!  This is from the guy who lies and tells people that he helped write the Building Act.

It wasn’t just the Walshes that complained.  The Hawkes Bay City Regional Council had warned Graeme that other similar retaining walls that he designed failed to follow the Building Act and were of substandard quality.

Despite this, the EQC mafia regards Graeme as a “world authority” on engineering matters.  They used him extensively to get rid of claims where people complain.  His job was to minimise damage.

In some ways, Graeme is similar to John Maio.  One strategy for EQC to get rid of properties that are difficult to fix so it can pad the numbers is by calling a house a leaky home or saying it is historical damage.  No one tells the claimant anything.  The house just gets assessed again and after waiting for many months, the claimant gets a cheque without any explanation.

EQC has received dozens of complaints about Graeme, but it will not release the number.  One complaints investigator says, “The person people complain about the most is Graeme Robinson.  We can’t do anything because our boss tells us that we can’t question anything he does.  We just tell the claimant that we have closed their complaint and that they need to go to the Ombudsman.”

The bad publicity from The Press forced EQC to hide Graeme.  Graeme doesn’t do any more inspections, but he now trains other engineers and assessors.  He also is supposed to review work and he is still on $1,500 per day.  EQC have also given him an EQC car and pay for his airfare.

Graeme is currently under investigation from IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand) because numerous people have complained.  IPENZ would not talk to us, but they say they are investigating him.

Graeme has made the lives of hundreds of people a complete hell.

“Rort” I Mean Reid Stiven

Reid Stiven has been around EQC circles for ages.  He belongs to the Napier mafia just like Graeme Robinson and Barry Searle.  All three have been mates for many years.

Reid is Barry Searle’s right hand man.  Barry has never liked being in the public light, so Reid has often been the public face of EQC.  His official title is “Manager of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme”.  Reid is the go to man linking the EQC and Fletchers rorts.

During the early days following the 4 September earthquake, Reid and Barry sat down with their cronies and said, “We’re going to make this gig last and set us up for life”.  Making money for Reid was his main concern.

Like Barry, Stiven never commits anything to writing.  Whenever Stiven handed instructions, he would just hand a blank piece of paper, but he would never sign his name or date it.  This was so he could disavow knowledge if the piece of paper came back to haunt him.

Reid and Barry were the ones that pushed the idea of Fletchers managing repairs.  They persuaded Gerry Brownlee that this was the best option.  The only reason they wanted Fletchers to manage repairs was that it would take much longer and help them make more money.  Brownlee is a moron, so it was easy to get him to go along with the plan.

EQC experimented with a managed repair programme back during the 2003 Fiordland earthquake, but it was a failure.  Costs escalated and many repairs were of poor quality.  EQC then continued cash settling claims until Barry and Reid decided they needed to make some money.

Reid helps his family and his mates.  One of the first places fixed in Christchurch was his brother’s place on Courteny Drive in Kaipoi.  His claim was settled by EQC in under a fortnight.

Reid also gave a $180,000 per year assessor gig to his 19-year-old son Zac.  Zac had no relevant experience, but this didn’t matter to Reid.  Zac was quite a lazy bugger.  He called in sick repeatedly, especially on Monday’s after he was too pissed from the weekend.

Zac also crashed his brand new car when he was racing it.  Zac also had the cops bust him for cocaine, but Reid intervened and was able to keep things hushed.

Reid is an EQC old timer.  Back in the Gisborne earthquake, Reid brought a tv into his office and watched porn when he was working.

Of the contracted loss adjusters that were around pre earthquake, Reid and Barry were the least qualified.  Fortunately, they knew how to muscle out the opposition.  They got rid of everyone that was more qualified and knew what they were doing.

Reid has a major complex because people see him as stupid.  He would tell people he was working on some Master’s Degree when he actually had no post-secondary education. Lots of people think Reid is a moron.  He might not have book smarts, but he is cunning and knows how to play politics.  Several “smarter” people thought they could handle Reid, but Reid ended up getting the better of them.

Stiven is a crook.  He and Barry Searle conspired with a chap named Keith Tressler to rip off EQC.  Keith owned a company called Combined Bay Assessors/Combined Bay Adjusters.  They provided contracted assessors to EQC, but Keith clipped the ticket and would give kickbacks to Reid and Barry.

A similar rort was there between Barry Searle and his cousin.  Barry’s son owned a loss adjusting company and he would provide contract assessors from Auckland to come down to Christchurch.  Barry’s cousin charged EQC $750 per day per assessor and he paid the assessors $300 per day.  He had a total of about twenty assessors down there and he would give kickbacks to Barry.

Reid is also a crook when it comes to hiding information from claimants.  Quite a few times, he has kept Graeme Robinson reports from being uploaded to the claimant’s file.  The reason is that Reid wants to make it difficult for the claimant to fight back.

This happened to a claimant from Queenstown after the 4 of September quake.  The damage was initially $45k, but Graeme Robinson went down and said it was historic.  The claimant hired their own engineer and eventually took EQC to court.  EQC backed down and the lawyers at Chapman Tripp settled the claim for $90k because so much deterioration had occurred due to the delays.

Reid is also a real cheapskate.  He uses EQC credit cards to fill up the diesel for his boat.  No one audits the credit cards, so he gets away with it.

Reid got himself into a bit of trouble a few months ago.  He gave a contract for land assessments to Mainland Claims worth $25 million.  However, he only had a $25k delegation, so he got into a bit of trouble with his boss.  Of course, it’s EQC and Reid never gets in trouble.  The EQC Board and the legal team had to approve that contract.

What’s interesting is that Mainland Claims hired Reid’s son Zac after he became too much of an embarrassment.  Zac had no qualifications, but he got a six-figure job at Mainland.  The payoff between Reid and Mainland was that Reid would help Mainland get the assessment contract for land claims.

Part of the payoff for getting Zac the mainland job was that Mainland would send Zac Berry to EQC to manage the land claims.  Zac Berry would obviously ensure that Mainland would get as much work from it as possible.

One interesting thing was that the main competitor for the land assessment bid was CERNO.  CERNO was formerly McLarens Young International and Barry Searle owned a franchise in Napier.  Barry and Reid agreed to give the contract to Mainland because Barry’s interest in CERNO was much smaller and Barry and Reid could make more money by giving the contract to Mainland.

Reid is a huge crook.  He is incompetent, but he knows how to muscle people out and take control.  We wanted to talk to Reid, but he wouldn’t give any interviews.

Gail Kettle

ACC is a training ground for EQC.  ACC and EQC have many similarities.

Like EQC, no one has a choice but to pay to support ACC. Your wages, petrol taxes, and registration fees go straight into the pockets of ACC.

ACC no longer fulfils its stated mission.  Instead, the job of ACC is to stall claimants and make their lives difficult.  Generating good numbers is more important than actually helping people recover.

The following email excerpt from Bronwyn Pullar describing ACC could also describe EQC.

ACC needs to pull their head in and stop being so bloody arrogant and thinking they are above the law, and treating claimants with distain, as pure numbers and financial liabilities, using compliant assessors who have been influenced by ACC and their Branch Medical Advisors towards achieving exit pre-determined outcomes, as well as denying claimants rights to

It is just like EQC making “assessors” and “engineers” arrive at predetermined outcomes.

ACC is a refuse for corrupt unemployable bureaucrats.  Back in 2010, the Serious Fraud Office investigated Malcolm Mason, ACC’s former National Property Manager.  In 2011, he pled guilty to accepting $160,000 in bribes.  Malcolm Mason was very close to Gail Kettle and Ian Simpson.

Gail Kettle did a few things at ACC.  She worked as an ACC spokesperson.  She was also Branch Manager of the Sensitive Claims Unit at ACC before making her way to EQC.

The Sensitive Claims Unit at ACC was never as dysfunctional as it was under Gail.  Gail has a way of making things dysfunctional and then stepping away.

An ex-ACC colleague of Gail described her as a “f—wit” and went on to say “Gail is absolutely stupid.  I’ve never met someone more incompetent in my life.  I can’t believe they gave her such a high position at EQC”.

An ex-EQC colleague continues, “I remember the first time I heard Gail deliver a speech at a questions and answer session.  She spoke in platitudes and ignored questions about timeframes and claims processing.  She knew nothing about how EQC claims worked.  It was obvious she was ignorant.”

Gail supported spending $3 million on a public relations contract given to a company called Niu Pacific to help EQC’s image.

Gail is big into defending Fletchers.  A few months ago, Gail supported a policy of attaching an EQC scope of works to the LIM reports of claimants that it had cash settled.  The purpose of the report was to let prospective buyers know if the claimant did the work.  However, Gail refused to apply the same standard to homes repaired by Fletchers.  In classic EQC incompetence, EQC never managed to get around and attach the scope of works to houses that it cash settled.

Gail has also helped her daughter Nikki Kettle secure an assessor job paying $180,000 per year plus $24,000 in allowances.  Nikki had no relevant qualifications.  However, EQC says that assessors only need to have relevant “communication skills”.  This is HR mumbo jumbo that means we do not have a measureable standard so we can hire whoever we want.

Nikki also started a company called Re-Built Project Management Ltd with EQC estimator Grant Todd.  Their company was bidding on work whilst both of them still worked at EQC!

EQC Customer Services Manager Bruce Emson says that Nikki Kettle “put her hand up” about the conflict of interest, but no evidence exists to show that this is true.  Gail Kettle was clearly shielding her daughter and helping her profit from her connections at EQC.

Gail has also intervened in some claims to sabotage claimants that were protesting EQC decision or lodged formal complaints against EQC.  One claimant reports that EQC mysteriously changed the date of loss to 2009 to hold up her claim.  Gail was the only person with the systems authority to do this and likely did this on instructions from Barry Searle.

Gail was the one who told EQC employees in Wellington to play games on the job.  She felt it was important for them to relax.  She would often join them for the games.

Gail does not have the power of a Barry Searle, but she is certainly milking EQC for her own benefit.  “She doesn’t steal openly, but she spends EQC money frivolously and doesn’t really do anything.  EQC would be no worse off if she vanished”, says someone at EQC Wellington.

I guess EQC would be better off if the entire EQC Royal Family disappeared.

Ian Simpson The EQC Salesman

Ian Simpson is the CEO of EQC, but he is little more than EQC’s PR poster boy.  The power behind the throne at EQC is Barry Searle.

Ian Simpson thinks he runs things, but this is not true.   The EQC Board did give him a $70,000 performance bonus increasing his pay to $400,000 to help his self-esteem and make him think he is doing a great job.  Self-esteem is more important at EQC than doing a good job.

His main tasks have been to go overseas and assure the reinsurers that EQC is following the correct protocol, though this is false.  Ian is also there when the media need a figurehead to question.  He is as slick as a user car salesman.  He always feels everyone’s pain and promises to fix things, but somehow the fix never happens.

Ian’s background is worth mentioning.  He previously worked at ACC “managing” their investment money.  “Managing” means that Ian assigned it to investment professionals as he sat back and took the credit.  “Insurance investments is very boring,” says an insurance expert.  “You can only invest in certain very low risk securities.  Ian would like you to think he’s a successful hedge fund manager, but we are talking about ACC and New Zealand”.

When Ian worked at ACC, he was quick to hide some of the financial irregularities.  Every year before the auditors came, Ian would tell his subordinates to cherry pick a handful of files to present to the auditors.  The auditors would sign off on everything being ok and they never bothered to audit the information closely because they did not want to risk losing their plum government contract.

Before he came to ACC, Ian had various “finance” roles in Europe at Diageo and British Petroleum.  Most of these roles involved “analysing” and other corporate drivel.  Ian was always more of a spin artist than a doer.

Ian went from ACC to EQC in March 2010.  He was happy to leave ACC because he had some turf wars with ACC bureaucrats.  He also figured that EQC would be an easy job.  ACC was always busy with claims, but EQC mostly sat around waiting for the “Big One” to happen.  Ian only had to manage 21 people and earthquakes rarely happened, so he figured EQC would be a stepping-stone to a CEO role at a bigger company.

Ian displaced a fellow named Lance Dixon for the CEO job.  Lance was seen as a big up and comer and the board had groomed him for the CEO job.  However, they thought he was too young.  Lance was smart and capable, so one of Ian’s first things was to undermine the competition.  Ian might not be able to do, but he was skilled at playing corporate political games.

“Ian didn’t really do much work.  He spent a lot of time at the office socialising or travelling to meet reinsurers.  He didn’t really know the nuts and bolts of what he was going on”, says an ex-EQC employee.

When 4 September came, Ian was totally unprepared.  He was quite happy to let Barry Searle and Reid Stiven run things.  Ian had no relevant background and it quickly showed.

One of the worst decisions that EQC made was to let Fletchers manage repairs.  EQC had generally cash settled claims in the past.  It did manage repairs through Mainzeal during the 2003 Fiordland earthquake, but the entire thing was a disaster.  Repairs were not up to standard and costs spiralled out of control.

Despite the past problems, Gerry Brownlee put pressure on EQC to give the contract to Fletchers after Reid Stiven and Barry Searle pushed Brownlee to do this.  “Ian Simpson didn’t get too involved in these discussions because he knew virtually nothing about EQC’s past,” says an ex-EQC employee. Ian was happy to let Barry and Reid run things in Christchurch.

Ian, along with his buddy Gail Kettle, brought lots of their mates from ACC.  They forced out anyone that was competent by restructuring their jobs so they could get rid of them.  They also hired quite a few ex-ACC people without ever advertising the jobs in some cases.  When they did advertise the jobs, it went through a recruiting agency that got a kickback.

EQC seemed to plough along.  “Early on, it was all about getting money out and appear to do something,” says a current EQC employee.  “Ian wanted us to do something.  It didn’t matter what it was so long as we seemed to be on top of it.  Ian said that perception is everything”.

The problems for EQC only worsened after the February 22 earthquake.  However, Ian Simpson was not very actively engaged in managing claims or managing EQC.  His main task was to talk to the media and go overseas to talk to the reinsurers and sell them EQC.

He definitely sold EQC and the reinsurers paid billions to EQC with no questions asked because they wrongly assumed that New Zealand was free from corruption and fraud.  “Ian was an empty suit that could sell”, remarks a source.

The biggest problem under Ian was that he ignored corruption at EQC.  “Ian seemed to prefer to pretend that everything was fine,” says an ex-employee.

EQC was embroiled in numerous problems with the nepotism scandals where senior managers gave highly paid jobs to children and friends without any formal qualifications.  Also, some people at EQC were running companies on the side that benefited directly from EQC contracts.  Ian did nothing to address this.

Yes, he did commission a study by KSJ Associates Ltd and spent $25,000.  “The study told EQC what it wanted to hear.  The people running KSJ were ex-Wellington bureaucrats and mates of Simpson and the EQC hierarchy,” says a source.

Interestingly, the KSJ report admits that the email evidence it relied on came exclusively from EQC’s IT department, which means that EQC only released what it wanted to release.  The report also says, “we chose not to interview the four relatives of management quoted in the media”

The report also says that, “work experience prior to the EQC contract was also not a factor”.  In other words, it was not relevant whether the person hired was a builder or a used car salesman.

The report shows that relevant building or assessing knowledge played no part in EQC’s hiring criteria.

EQC continued to experience massive problems under Ian.  The settlement of claims was delayed.  Files mysteriously disappeared.  The quality of repairs was terrible.   EQC could not retain qualified staff.  Things were falling apart despite Ian’s best efforts to patch things up.

Fortunately for Ian, he enjoyed strong support internally at EQC.  “EQC employees viewed Ian Simpson as some kind of hero.  The propaganda machine at EQC was designed to make Ian look good,” says a former EQC employee.

Corruption at EQC festered under Ian.  People like Reid Stiven and Barry Searle were robbing the place blind, but Ian was too busy putting a rosy spin to everything.  Others like Graeme Robinson continued to hound claimants, but Ian kept putting a positive spin to things.

The one saving grace for Ian was that it does not appear that he stole money directly. “Ian doesn’t need to steal money because he’s on a hefty salary.  He is also very removed from the day to day operation at EQC,” recalls someone.

Though Ian is not stealing, EQC is rapidly losing money and problems only grow worse.  Maybe things would have gone better at EQC if it had made Lance Dixon or someone competent the CEO.

The EQC Godfather Barry Searle

Barry Searle is the spiritual if not literal head of the EQC Royal Family. As an ex-police detective, Barry is a master of secrecy. “He leaves no written record. Ask him a question by email and he just comes over to talk to you about it,” says an ex-EQC employee.

Barry knows how to take over an organisation by stacking it with his cronies. His best and most loyal supporters are family. He hired his son Matt as an estimator and he has hired his stepson from a previous marriage, Paul Thompson, and made him the boss of the hubs.

Paul’s actual profession is a hairdresser back in Napier, but he left behind the hair business to find his El Dorado at EQC. Paul has very little building knowledge though he is a director of a company called Valida Construction.

It was not possible to find a website or any reviews for Valida Construction. According to someone with knowledge of the situation, “the real reason they have Valida is to funnel EQC payments to them but make it look above board”. “EQC doesn’t have any audit process. No one is going to question an expense to a Valida Construction or bother looking to see that these fake payments are going into the pocket of Paul Thompson and Barry Searle”.

Barry’s nephew Kane Banks is also an estimator. Kane has made a few bucks by wrongly claiming $115 per day in food and accommodation allowance for months. Kane also gave a job to his son’s female flatmate.

Barry’s son Matt has also found a nice gig for his flatmate at EQC. Matt and his flatmate both claimed over $20,000 in living allowances that they were not entitled to. Like father like son some might say.

Barry controls most of EQC like his own fiefdom. He managed to muscle out his competition over the years. He was the one responsible for having an emergency plan in place to grow EQC exponentially in the event of a disaster. He gave contracts to Australian loss adjusting firms and New Zealand loss adjusting firms controlled by cop mates of his.

He stacked EQC with more than 100 cops in his early days, mostly as assessors. Plenty of those cops were mates of Barry. The pay for those ex-cop assessors was $500-$1,000 per day. “They’d never made so much money in their lives. It was literally just like pigs feeding at the trough”, says another ex EQC employee. “Barry was like the godfather of a mafia crime family.

One of Barry’s mates is a man named Quentin Doig. Doig was an ex-cop Contract Field Supervisor for EQC. After his lucrative stint at EQC, he went to Risk Worldwide, a claim resolution service that describes itself as “in the business of assisting policy holders recover their maximum entitlement from their insurance company.” Doig is one of the ex-ACC bosses like Ian Simpson and Gail Kettle that moved to EQC to make the big bucks. ACC is a training ground for EQC.

Another source described Barry as “the leader of a Napier gang that came down to Christchurch to milk it. They figured that the earthquakes could set them up for life”.
One way where they have made money is to take properties where an ex-cop assessor originally inflated the damage, have Fletchers come do the repairs for substantially less and then pocket the difference through Valida Construction. One source mentioned a job where $25,800 for largely cosmetic work. However, the Fletchers supervisor charged EQC $39,000 and split the difference with Barry.
“The corruption at EQC is shocking,” says one source. “I tried raising issues with Shane Collins the Manager of the Investigations Team. It was like talking to a brick wall. She and the other investigators pretended to listen, but did nothing” he continues.

Another man with intimate knowledge of EQC says, “The internal EQC and Fletchers anti-fraud teams exists merely to present the illusion that EQC and Fletchers take corruption seriously. Unfortunately, their only purpose is to thwart any whistleblowers by alerting the perpetrators of the fraud and helping them to conceal it”.

Several whistleblowers that have raised concerns with the Investigations Team report that Fletchers have immediately stopped the flow of work to them or their companies. “As soon as you speak out, they just shut you out. They never tell you up front what it’s about, but you see that you no longer get any work. Most people won’t speak out because they’ve got kids and mortgages to pay. Why put that at risk.”

Other sources report that there are additional companies through which Barry and his family funnel funds, but we were unable to locate their names.

Barry also turns a blind eye to Fletchers or contractors linked to him overcharging EQC. “You have a situation where so many of the early assessments are high, so that gives contractors the opportunity to overcharge and pocket the difference without any more scrutiny. There’s no EQC assessor that checks up on Fletchers if they come at less than the original EQC scope. One guy has made money on this on over forty houses.”

Barry also looks after his family and mates. Several individuals claim that Barry has had Fletchers do renovations for non-earthquake damage and send the bill to EQC. He also allegedly moves those connected to him, family, or friends to the front of the settlement queue.

We tried contacting EQC to ask questions, but no one from EQC was willing to talk to us. However, an anonymous employee who is still there told us, “Barry is the mastermind of the operation. Whenever someone takes EQC to court, Barry is the one that makes the decisions. Barry always tries to settle things quietly because he doesn’t want a plaintiff’s lawyer looking through things or asking questions that he doesn’t want EQC to answer.”