Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Double the fraud with National!

When people were charged over laundering a $100,000 donation to the National Party, people were horrified. But now it turns out that its not one $100,000 donation, but two:

The Serious Fraud Office prosecution of four people over donations to the National Party involves not one but two $100,000 donations - in June 2017 and June 2018.

Court charging documents released to the media by order of Auckland District Court Judge Edwin Paul today show that three of the four defendants - whose names are suppressed ahead of a hearing next week - each face two joint charges of deception over a sum of $100,000 donated to National in 2017 and $100,050 donated to the party in 2018. The maximum penalty if convicted on the charge is seven years' imprisonment.

The fourth person is charged jointly with the others only over the second $100,050 donation - but also faces one charge of providing misleading information to the SFO.

(In 2018 National received $742,000 in donations. So this single donation is 13% of their funding that year).

Multiple donations suggests that this isn't a one-off aberration, but a systematic pattern of behaviour. And it raises the question of how many other times they (or other parties) have done it and gotten away with it. Not to mention who is making these huge secret donations and exercising influence behind the scenes.

We don't have an answer to that because for the moment everyone has interim name suppression. Hopefully that will be overturned when they appear in court next week. Because it is hard to think of a more compelling public interest in transparency than in election fraud.