ALEX BURTON/FAIRFAX NZ
Disgraced former Heart of the City boss Alex Swney intends to lead a “much simpler”, “downgraded” lifestyle after being released from prison less than half way through his jail sentence.
In June 2015, Swney was found to have stolen about $2.5m from Heart of the City over 10 years, as well as failing to pay about $1.76m in tax over the same period.
Swney was serving five years and seven months in jail for from the Auckland business group because he felt he was not paid enough.
The Inland Revenue Department had also been chasing him to recover $4.6 million in outstanding tax, interest and penalties.
Judge Grant Fraser did not impose a minimum non-parole period when he sentenced Swney, meaning he could be released following his first parole hearing in May.
ALEX BURTON/FAIRFAX NZ
This was less than two years into Swney’s sentence.
Media were not permitted to attend Swney’s first parole hearing last week, but on Tuesday, the Parole Board said Swney had been granted parole.
This came with seven special conditions which would be in place for two years after his release, and included not giving financial or business advice without approval, as well as not being able to contact his victim without approval.
The decision said the Parole Board found Swney did not seem to be able to acknowledge the role his “sense of entitlement” played in his offending.
It said Swney was still coming to terms with his “fundamental dishonesty”.
“His responses to the psychologist indicated a person with a somewhat inflated ego and a sense of entitlement.
“He initially struggled to accept the results of the tests, but the psychologist reports that over time he began to develop an understanding of what brought him to offend.”
The Parole Board said Swney outlined the changes he would make to his life when he left prison.
Swney had been a literacy mentor in prison, assisted others with a yoga programme, and worked in self-care residences and as an education support worker.
He was bankrupted in 2015 and was was concerned to provide for his family.
“He said that he no longer had any desire to live the life that he had previously.
“He accepted that he would be living a ‘downgraded’ lifestyle.”
The board heard Swney had had 12 sessions with a psychologist and had the strong support of his family, as well as a job offer within a family business.
“We have taken time to reflect on all the information before us, and we have concluded that his risk can be managed in the community with the special release conditions that we have in mind.”