Monday, June 13, 2022

The stench of corruption

A company gives a large amount of money to a political party because they are concerned about law changes which might affect their business model. And lo and behold, the changes are dumped, and a special exemption written into the law to protect them. Its the sort of thing we expect to happen in the United States. But according to testimony in the New Zealand First Foundation trial, it happened right here in Aotearoa:

An apartments developer worried a ban on foreign investors could kill its business donated more than $150,000 to the New Zealand First Party when it went into government with Labour after the 2017 election.

Various entities of Conrad Properties gave the party's fundraising foundation $155,000 in payments each under the $15,000 Electoral Commission public declaration threshold between April 2018 and January 2019.

Conrad Properties group founder Robert Holden gave evidence in the High Court trial in which two men face charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office of obtaining by deception through the New Zealand First Foundation.


Holden, who the court heard lives in Bermuda, became aware of reports the Labour Party wanted to restrict foreign investment in residential real estate. He believed this "would have been the death knell for our business" and realised Conrad would need to "engage with the government to explain why this would be detrimental".

"Engagement" apparently meaning "secretly give piles of cash", in a way which if it had been given directly to the party, would arguably have been a crime (in fact, the willingness of NZ First donors to admit arguably criminal evasion of donation laws in this trial has been shocking).

The article goes on to note that a few months after Holden began his donations, David Parker announced changes which gave him exactly what he wanted, which were then implemented by the select committee examining the bill. Which smells pretty bad. And I think Parker (and Labour members of the committee) need to front up and answer some questions about whether NZ First lobbied for those changes. Because from here, it looks like policy was purchased via the government's coalition partner. And that is simply corrupt.