SFO investigating National Party donation

More problems for the National Party and Simon Bridges after a complaint made by ex-National MP Jami-lee Ross to the police has been referred to the Serious Fraud Office.

This is an investigation, not a finding, but it doesn’t look flash for Bridges or National.

Newsroom: SFO to investigate National donation allegations

The Serious Fraud Office will investigate allegations of electoral donation fraud levelled against the National Party and its leader Simon Bridges by rogue MP Jami-Lee Ross.

Ross has claimed vindication over the news, but Bridges has expressed confidence his own hands are clean and called on party officials to fully cooperate with the SFO inquiry.

Police started looking into the allegations after Ross spoke to them last year, but now appear to have elevated the issue into specialist hands.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, police said they had referred a complaint they received last October to the SFO, “in relation to the disclosure of political donations under the Electoral Act”.

“The complaint has been referred to the SFO as they hold the appropriate mandate to look further into matters raised by the investigation to date.”

Police said they could not comment on their own investigation while the SFO was looking into the allegations.

Also from Newsroom: Jami-Lee Ross rides again

The former National MP accused of bullying and cheating during his time in Parliament has written to all his Botany constituents asking not to be judged “on a month where personal and health-related matters became a distraction”.

The Serious Fraud investigation was made public yesterday in a two sentence statement from police:

Ross held a press conference claiming he had been doubted repeatedly but each time in this controversy had proven his critics wrong.

He’s a bit premature there, nothing has been proven about the donation yet.

Leave a comment

23 Comments

  1. Reply
  2. Zedd

     /  13th March 2019

    can it be… Natl hiding donations from wealthy foreigners ?

    OR perhaps… just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ ?! :/

    what else may JLR have to ‘reveal’ about Bridges/Natl ‘WIN by any means’ political agenda…

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  13th March 2019

      I would be surprised if any wrong doing is found, Zedd.

      Reply
      • Zedd

         /  13th March 2019

        yeah… nah… 😀

        btw; $100k ?
        hardly a ‘minor oversight’

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th March 2019

        SFO is going to follow the money trail Corky .
        7 donations of exactly $14k ( +$2k) all made in to the same bank accounts at the same time?
        If those 7 people – who the party hadnt heard of- had the $7K each reimbursed back in their accounts from a single person.
        Procuring donations in this way – to avoid disclosure- is a crime.

        If it had happened the other way, 7 or 8 people wanted to donate as a group, and the money was lodged under ONE persons name , that would be all OK.

        Reply
        • NOEL

           /  13th March 2019

          Police were reported as questioning the Electoral Officer when it was first handed over to them. Now they have passed the baton. Interesting!!

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  13th March 2019

            Not really. Justice must be seen to be done. The Police don’t have the resources to do more in depth forensic check…so they have passed it on to an organisation that has trouble accounting cafeteria money, let alone account for electoral donations.

            The election will be over by the time the SFO produce a finding. By that time National hopefully will be back in government.

            Reply
            • Duker

               /  13th March 2019

              Dont you mean … 3 months before the election .

  3. Duker

     /  13th March 2019

    Simon says its a national Party problem…..trouble with that ‘diversion’ is the public sees him as the leader of National party !
    Nothing to hide is there !

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  13th March 2019

      perhaps…. gone by lunchtime ?? 😀

      Reply
    • Gezza

       /  13th March 2019

      Exactly the point made in the 1ewes at 6 item last night.

      Simon should be getting the night sweats & probably is.

      Reply
  4. Blazer

     /  13th March 2019

    what a rogues gallery these National big wigs turn out to…be.

    Reply
    • Zedd

       /  13th March 2019

      &Blzr

      ‘what a rogues gallery……’

      very polite.. I could think of more blunt words

      ‘look out Simon/natl’ 😀

      Reply
  5. Gerrit

     /  13th March 2019

    I wonder if JLR is being “played” again. As the facilitator of the $100K donation (whether in 8 separate parts or a single entity) into the Botany bank account and from there to National HQ, he is in some bother as well.

    Worth a read from a National party perspective;

    https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2019/03/donation_legality.html

    “The other issue for JLR might be whether he is a transmitter. A transmitter is someone who transmits a donation to the party secretary on behalf of the donor. If JLR passed on the donations from the Botany electorate to HQ, then he may be deemed a transmitter. And a transmitter is required under 207E to disclose if they knew of any contributors. This section could well apply to JLR.”

    Going to have to buy more popcorn.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  13th March 2019

      Ross says he had no authority over ‘the botany account’ and wasnt a signatory.

      is this the best Farrar can do as a diversion?
      Those parts of the law were expressly written to give cover to the party as they raised money and moved it around accounts belong to the party.
      As well hes a cooperating witness, not something that the National party will be doing- based on previous history the party lawyers will telling everyone to refuse to make any statements to police of SFO

      Reply
      • Gerrit

         /  13th March 2019

        Am not a legal beaver, but he knew the donation/s were in the account so have either verbal (through a third party) knowledge or sight access to the account.

        He asked National HQ what they wanted to do with the donation/s so by self admission, knew the money was in the account. Hence a facilitator to transfer the donation/s. JLR did ask party HQ what to do with the donation/s and was told to get the doners contact details)

        He may not be a physical signatory on the account but he could direct a third party to carry out his wishes.

        As I said, popcorn time and much more to come out.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  13th March 2019

        Farrar isnt involved with donations to the extent that Ross was . There is nothing to suggest Ross wasnt intimately aware of the rules around donations.
        Farrar has stayed away from the party since he was a regional VP and that was maybe 15 years ago or more, he doesnt know how more recent (2012 or so ) rules work

        Reply
  6. Finbaar Rustle

     /  13th March 2019

    Pretty much any one who gets elected to Parliament is a rogue.
    Charming your way to win the candidacy takes a lot of arse licking.
    Winning the seat means making promises you know full well
    you will never be able to fulfill then make excuses, deflecting blame
    and make a second round of promises enough to keep you at
    the trough a couple of terms.
    By that time you have made enough contacts and learned the ropes of
    insider trading you can hawk your self into top jobs until retirement.
    Once on the gravy train just slurp to your hearts content.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  13th March 2019

      Do you KNOW any MPs and know the hours they put in ???

      How would you feel about doing 17 hour days ?

      Reply
  7. Finbaar Rustle

     /  13th March 2019

    Every one does 17 hour days.
    Its called life,

    Reply
  8. High Flying Duck

     /  13th March 2019

    Peter Dunne is pretty blunt on this one:

    “Every party has done it since time immemorial. So, there will be quite a lot riding on this.”

    Fuller excerpt:

    “Dunne makes some stunningly strong allegations about corrupt practices, essentially arguing that all the political parties are guilty of evading electoral law. On being asked about the SFO looking into parties evading the rules, Dunne says: “Every party has done it since time immemorial. So, there will be quite a lot riding on this.”

    The optics are very bad for National and for Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell
    The optics are very bad for National and for Simon Bridges. Photo / Mark Mitchell
    He explains why the parties might want donors to split their large contributions into smaller amounts: “If I’m a large donor then either I make the donation in a way that protects my anonymity, if that be my wish, or I don’t make it all. But the political parties are keen to get the money, and if someone says ‘I’m happy to donate but I don’t want my name splashed all over the paper’, then it’s almost logical that the parties then say ‘Well here’s a way that you can do it and not have to do it’. Now, is that unethical? I think that some people would say ‘In some senses, yes’. And in other cases there might be very good reasons why someone doesn’t want their name disclosed. It might be that they are giving similar amounts of money to other parties as well, for instance.”

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12212360

    Reply
  9. High Flying Duck

     /  13th March 2019

    And an excellent summary of proceedings from Andrew Geddis:

    “Let’s remember what Jami-Lee Ross alleged took place. He told the Police that Simon Bridges was complicit in a $100,000 donation to National being broken down into smaller amounts under $15,000 in order to avoid disclosing the true donor’s identity as required by the Electoral Act 1993. If true, then that’s a quite serious offence.

    But as I wrote at the time of Ross’ original accusations, the evidence produced to date does not conclusively prove that any such offending took place. Indeed, that evidence actually appeared to show the National Party’s officials trying to ensure the law was complied with by verifying the identity of the various donors concerned.

    Furthermore, if National’s officials didn’t manage to connect each donation to a real, flesh-and-blood donor, then they would have been required to treat it as coming from an “anonymous” source. In that case, they can only retain $1500 of the donation and are required to pass over the rest to the Electoral Commission.

    But when a party does that, it must say it has done so in its annual financial return. Meaning that when National’s annual return for 2018 is released in May this year, we’ll be able to see whether or not they regarded these donations as being “anonymous” (from a source they could not identify as being a real flesh-and-blood person). Although, of course, if they did not regard them as being “anonymous”, we won’t see who they came from, as they fall under the $15,000 disclosure threshold – as apparently was intended.

    Ultimately, of course, questions about the true source of the donation(s) in question can only be resolved by tracing back to where that money originated. As doing so may involve tracking funds through a complex set of accounts, the SFO’s expertise may have been thought more suitable to deal with the matter. If, that is, they take the matter on.

    So, until we hear what the SFO finds (if anything), we’re really no nearer to settling what went on than we were back in October of last year. Which doesn’t help Simon Bridges or his National Party any, given that now they face headlines involving the words “donation” “Serious Fraud” and “investigation” for the foreseeable. Which is, as any political commentator worth their salt will tell you, not a good look. At all.”

    https://www.pundit.co.nz/content/simon-bridges-national-and-the-serious-fraud-office-what-does-it-all-mean

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s