SFO charges four in National Party donations case

Issued by the Serious Fraud office:  SFO files charges in National Party donations case

Published 

The Serious Fraud Office filed criminal charges today against four people in relation to donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on 25 February.

The SFO will not make any further comment until any name suppression issues have been dealt with.

Statement from National Party and National Party Leader Simon Bridges:

As expected neither National Party Leader Simon Bridges, nor the National Party have been charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

“I have always maintained I had nothing to do with the donations. As I have always said the allegations against both myself and the Party were baseless and false,” National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP.”

“I have always been confident in the way the Party receives and declares donations,” General Manager Greg Hamilton says.

“We are happy to put this matter behind us and will not be making any other comment.”

Law Professor Andrew Geddis (The Spinoff) – A political donations powderkeg: on SFO criminal charges and the National Party

First of all, we don’t know what specific charges have been filed, nor against whom. The SFO won’t say, because when the accused appear in court on February 25 they may well seek name suppression. Naming them before they get the chance to do so would render such an application moot, and the SFO doesn’t really want to do the court’s job for it.

We do know that neither the National Party leader, Simon Bridges, nor its secretary, Greg Hamilton, have been charged as they have told us so. Hearing that didn’t surprise me…

For Bridges to be charged, he pretty much would have to had explicitly told donors something like, “I want you to give my party this money in this illegal way.” Now, much as I know that plenty of inner-city, kombucha drinking liberal types like to hate on our Simon, no political party leader would be that stupid. Not even Simon Bridges.

And the National Party secretary’s legal responsibility really amounts to little more than receiving and recording donations, before passing on limited information about those donations to the Electoral Commission. When doing so, he’s entitled to simply rely on what he’s told by donors to the party without having to try and independently verify that it is the truth. Having met those minimal requirements under the law, he’s then in the clear.

Beyond saying the above regarding who hasn’t been charged with what, further speculation as to who then is left on the potential hook could result in defamation lawsuits – as well as being very unfair to innocent parties. And so there I shall forbear to tread.

There have been media reports on this, with speculation about who the charged people may be.

It seems that a journalist named one of those charged, which seems risky given the SFO warning about name suppression. David Farrar, who earlier had said…

Name suppression is not automatic. A judge has to order it (unless minors etc). Most media don’t report a name prior to a decision on name suppression but AFAIK this is convention not law

…appears to have posted on this at Kiwiblog, but later took the post down “Because I was asked to”.

WARNING: Don’t make any attempt to name any of those charged. If anyone tries this, including trying to be ‘clever’ (dumb) with hints or insinuations, you will lose the privilege to comment freely here.

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17 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  31st January 2020

    Business as usual National party style=buy influence .
    The JLR /Bridges transcript reveals the role played by the leader of the opposition….accessory at the least.
    ‘JLR: [laughs] Hey um you know at Paul Goldsmith’s function you saw those two Chinese guys, [redacted] and [redacted] ? You had dinner at their home?
    SB: Yes.
    JLR: They talked to you about a hundred thousand dollar donation –
    SB: Yep
    JLR: That is now in.
    SB: Fantastic
    JLR: What would you like done with it? It’s currently sitting in a Botany electorate account.

    SB: Um look, I just think we want it for, uh, the advertisements and the like, you know? We want it for the things that we’re gonna need to do over the next year or so, sort of outside of the – not outside of the party but um, uh, you know, like I say we want to do some more attack ads – say we want to do another regional fuel one, say we want to do an industrial relations one.

    Reply
    • Business as usual for NZ First donors like fishing interests and racing interests who get rewarded by Winston.

      Business as usual for unions funding Labour (presumably) in order to get more favourable labour law changes.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st January 2020

        OMG! Not the tired ‘Labour did it too’….line.

        Reply
        • They get donations too, yes. And National and Labour have ensured the donation rules give them plenty of leeway to hide thee identity of donors, which is the opposite of openness and transparency.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  31st January 2020

            National is the party which had rewritten the donations laws instead of focussing on the economy during the the 9 years of neglect.
            Pray tell which rules were written by Labour, they generally like to make it easier for people to vote and restrict overseas donations – which the Nats have a Nelson’s eyepatch to

            Reply
            • “National is the party which had rewritten the donations laws instead of focussing on the economy during the the 9 years of neglect.”

              What donation laws were re-written by National without Labour support during their last nine years in government? If you can’t answer that I will presume you’ve neglected to tell the truth.

            • Duker

               /  1st February 2020

              You said Labour like National ‘wrote the donation laws’ without any evidence. Now if I dispute your claim I have to prove the negative ?
              National was the government they didnt need labours support.

              Indeed the lastest amendment act part of which gives certain prisoners the right to vote was opposed by National but they supported other parts.

        • Corky

           /  31st January 2020

          Well, if Labour didn’t do similar, you would be standing on the moral high ground.
          But you aren’t.

          Reply
        • David

           /  31st January 2020

          Have you been following the horror show that is Dalziel in Christchurch Blazer, Chinese restaurant meal and auction, overpaying at the auction, husband working for Chinese companies and her entire campaign funded by the one person and funded by one event.
          She threw her husband under the bus, he is a lawyer, and claimed no knowledge of these things and relied on his advice despite her running for office for the last 30 years. Coppers are looking at it but she is a leftie so no SFO interest.

          Reply
          • duperez

             /  31st January 2020

            Apropos of the last sentence, you forgot the other bits. You know the stuff about “and if she is charged it’ll be set down for 2039 in some back court, with name suppression, the media won’t report it and she’ll get off with a warning.”

            And of course the clincher I see commonly when a person wth any Labour party connections is in a legal situation, ‘because that party, the judges and the police have a relationship involving corruption.’ Or words to that effect.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  31st January 2020

            Hello facts calling, you havent returned my calls.
            Wei Min Lu ($17,850)
            Yong Chen ($3920)
            Zhe Cheng Tan ($2800)
            Jiang Ping Wang ($2350)
            Grandland Investment Limited ($2950)
            Yang Xia Wu ($1750)
            Countrywide Property($6500)
            and other smaller amounts to the total of $41K

            One person ? Ha
            However she did skate over lightly the disclosure rules, just as National has done

            Reply
            • David

               /  31st January 2020

              Her first return and the original story;
              “Yet her electoral return, due last Friday, listed Davidson as the only donor from the event.”

              She updated her return and the story was updated at Christmas which I hadnt seen. Hard to keep up with her ever changing explanations and such a cavalier approach to the law when you feel you are above it.

            • Duker

               /  1st February 2020

              Will the National party be amending its return to show the single $100k donation instead of the multiple $14900 donations now the SFO has files charges. After the party knew all along there it was $100K from a single person, but of course the law as written by national protects them as their legal culpability is only to file paperwork received.
              Bridges was the one who spruiked for the money , it used to be a ‘convention’ that the party leaders didnt talk money amounts with donors, other than being ‘generous’ that was supposed to be the extent of their knowledge. Bridges would have claimed that too, but Ross had the evidence of him actively being a fundraiser , with Ross being the ‘bagman’.
              I wonder if Bridges has reminded the political editors of his previous legal threats over this donation

      • lurcher1948

         /  31st January 2020

        But,but they are not Chinese communists out to dominate the world

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  31st January 2020

          The formal name is the United Front-Work Department of the Central Committee.

          Reply

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