Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Lining their own pockets

There's a new twist in the Winston Peters secret donation story. It appears that a significant chunk of NZ First's secret laundered donations goes straight into the pockets of the people administering the scheme:

Tens of thousands in donor's funds given to the New Zealand First Foundation were spent paying expenses, wages and bills for people closely associated with the New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

The foundation, which has bankrolled NZ First using secret donations from rich business people, spent more than $130,000 on a company run by Brian Henry - the personal lawyer and close friend of Peters.

Documents obtained by RNZ show that between January 2018 and July 2019, the foundation took in $224,000 in donations from supporters - and overall, spent at least $368,000.

Of that, at least $137,000 of foundation funds were spent on a company called QComms.

Company office records show the sole director and shareholder of QComms is Brian Henry, who is a trustee of the foundation and the judicial officer of the New Zealand First party.

The money laundry paid Henry's daughter's rent and expenses, as well as John Thorn, the former NZ First official who wrote the memo suggesting setting it up. It also paid for air travel for Winston's partner Jan Trotman, who at the time was in business with Henry in a dodgy forestry scheme which attempted to extract money from the Provincial Growth partnership. No doubt there'll be reasons for all of this, but at the least it shows that Winston's money laundry is an orgy of nepotism and self-dealing by NZ First insiders. Which just makes it look personally corrupt as well as institutionally dodgy.

Meanwhile the SFO has promised to have a decision on whether to lay charges before the election. The sooner that happens, the better. Voters need to know what the situation is long before the voting period starts, so they can decide whether they want this party back in Parliament again.