New Zealand

Fiji-born Auckland businessman jailed in arson, insurance scam

A Fiji-born Auckland businessman arranged for his factory to be burned down and then made a claim of more than $3 million from his insurance company. Vijendra Naiker, 53, was jailed for 3 years 9 months this morning after being found guilty at trial at Auckland District Court on counts of arson and dishonestly using a document […]

Newsdesk

September 29, 2015 9:42 pm

A Fiji-born Auckland businessman arranged for his factory to be burned down and then made a claim of more than $3 million from his insurance company.

Vijendra Naiker, 53, was jailed for 3 years 9 months this morning after being found guilty at trial at Auckland District Court on counts of arson and dishonestly using a document for a pecuniary advantage.

The scene of the fire that gutted the premises of Sargam Foods in Henderson in November 2008. Picture / NZHerald.
The scene of the fire that gutted the premises of Sargam Foods in Henderson in November 2008. Picture / NZHerald.

Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) said the investigation of the fraudulent claim and a protracted court case had cost them more than $1.3m – one of the most expensive in its history.

But no reparation order was made against Naiker because of his limited means.

In mid-2008, the owner and managing director of Sargam Foods Ltd found his business, producing snacks like samosas and quiches, facing financial ruin.

Progressive Industries, to which the company supplied food, was also planning an audit after instigating new quality-control standards.

“You decided to burn down the premises,” Judge David Sharp said.

Naiker enlisted the help of a friend – truck driver Rashikendron Reddy – who recruited another man to assist with the arson.

Oliovaigafa Neru agreed to participate on the basis he was paid $500.

The day before the fire, Naiker showed them around, pointing out alarms, security cameras, where they should break in and a spot in the office where records were kept where the fire should be lit.

He hid the true nature of the visit from his employees at the Henderson business by having Neru fill out a shonky job application.

On November 15, 2008 the duo executed the plan and the premises on Bruce McLaren Rd was gutted by fire.

Naiker stood on the roadside with his family playing the part of the crestfallen business owner who had seen his dreams go up in smoke.

Insurance investigators were on the scene soon after and when he made a claim for more than $1m just days later he was soon told by IAG they would not be paying out.

Undeterred, Naiker lodged civil proceedings against the company with the High Court.

The final figure he claimed they owed him reached $3,820,710 and the matter has been put on hold pending the resolution of the criminal charges.

IAG’s deputy general counsel Seamus Donegan described it as a “lengthy and expensive” process.

He said the amount of resources Naiker’s claim consumed meant staff had to juggle it with legitimate claims from distressed Christchurch home owners affected by the earthquake.

Mr Donegan explained customer premiums formed a pool of funds to pay out claims and fraudulent claims were effectively theft from that pool.

Naiker’s lawyer Ian Brookie said the drawn-out proceedings had had a severe impact both mentally and physically on his client.

“He has, despite all this happening with the fire, contributed to the Fijian-Indian community in west Auckland,” he said.

“He is a deeply religious man and continued to contribute despite how long these proceedings have taken.”

Judge David Sharp gave Naiker credit for his clean criminal record and the difficulties he had faced in being on bail for four years.

Source: NZ Herald

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