A former senior Auckland Transport manager and a contractor who paid him more than $1 million - thought to be the largest bribery case ever in New Zealand - have lost their appeals to have corruption convictions thrown out.
Murray Noone was last year found guilty of taking what prosecutors say was about $1.1m in bribes between 2006 and 2013. In February he was handed a sentence of five years' prison.
His co-accused, Stephen Borlase, who owned and ran engineering consultancy company Projenz, was sentenced to fives years and six months' jail for bribing Noone and another council staffer.
When they were sentenced at the High Court at Auckland, Justice Sally Fitzgerald said such offending seriously undermined confidence in the public service.
Another senior AT manager, Barrie George - who reported directly to Noone - was last year sentenced to 10 months' home detention for taking about $100,000 in gifts.
In a Court of Appeal judgement released on Tuesday, Justice Rhys Harrison says while it was agreed by the defence that Borlase corruptly gave bribes to Noone and George, the appeal was on the grounds that the Crown failed to prove Borlase intended to influence Noone to act improperly to Projenz's advantage.
That argument "has an element of unreality", Justice Harrison said.
"Corruption...does not require proof of dishonesty but of a conscious recognition by both the payer and recipient that the benefits are being provided in connection with the official's duties."
He said the starting points for prison sentences were fair considering the aggravating factors, multiple offences committed over a seven-year period, significant harm to AT and "tarnishing New Zealand's international reputation".
"As Judge Fitzgerald found, this was generic and systemic corruption with a tendency to undermine confidence in the administration of public affairs," Justice Harrison said.