The scope of Police and New Zealand Transport Agency investigations into the driver licensing system looks likely to be expanded after fresh allegations at the weekend that heavy vehicle licences were being illegally sold.
It now appears that up to three people may be involved in a driver licencing fraud and the driver licence agencies assisting police now include Vehicle Testing New Zealand.
The latest claims were made by a truck driver who detailed exactly how a cash-for-licence scheme was operating in Auckland.
One News has reported that between $3500 and $5000 was changing hands for heavy vehicle licences and that the theory and practical licence tests could be circumvented, allowing the holder to drive trucks, trailers, buses, and heavy forklifts.
One News first reported claims that an AA licence booking officer had been selling licences for $500 and allowing customers’ to by-pass the standard wait time. It further alleged the scheme could have been operating since January 2015.
AA spokesperson Liam Baldwin said this morning that the AA had introduced a temporary measure to its licencing procedure for international licencing applicants from non-exempt countries.
He says all licencing requests from drivers from non-exempt countries would now be referred back to the NZTA for a further final check and approval before it would issue licences.
Baldwin says he believes other licencing agencies – VTNZ and NZ Post – has introduced similar albeit temporary measures as a result of the allegations.
Meanwhile, at least three separate investigations are underway and the Transport Ministry is watching closely.
NZTA chief executive Fergus Gammie has confirmed the agency is assisting police and taking immediate steps to protect the driver licensing system.
“We are taking these allegations very seriously and initiating a full end-to-end driver licensing system audit.”
“The integrity of that system is vital because we need to ensure that everyone who holds a New Zealand licence has earned it. The public needs to have trust and confidence in the driver licensing system.”
Gammie said the system audit would help identify any additional measures which may be needed to reduce the likelihood of security breaches in future.