SFO charges involve two $100k National donations

Newsroom: Not one, but two $100k donations to National in court

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.

The SFO’s wording for the joint deception charges says: “By deception or without claim of right directly or indirectly obtained for the National Party possession of, or control over, any property, namely a $100,050 [for the 2018 charge] donation made to the National Party between June 1, 2018 and June 8, 2018 (“the 2018 donation”) in circumstances where the identity of the donor was not disclosed in the National Party’s Annual Return of Party Donations.”

The SFO describes the offending over the donations in these words: “The defendants adopted a fraudulent device, trick or stratagem whereby the … donation was split into sums of money less than $15,000 and transferred into bank accounts of eight different people before being paid to, and retained by, the National Party.”

For the fourth person’s charge of misleading the SFO, the charging document says: “In the course of complying with a requirement … of the Serious Fraud Act 1990 supplied information knowing it was false or misleading in a material particular.”

The SFO says of that charge that this defendant told investigators a $100,000 sum transferred to their account was a deposit for a building on another person’s property – when the money had been intended as a donation to the National Party. Further, in 2019 the defendant created, signed and back-dated a contract to that end, when no real contract for that work existed. The office alleges the made-up contract copied wording from an unrelated contract.

While none of the four charged are directly connected to the National Party (according to National), and it’s possible National are innocent recipients of the donations, at best this still doesn’t look good for National, and could still get much worse.

Will National pay both donations back? If so that will drain their coffers somewhat.

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10 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  17th February 2020

    ‘While none of the four charged are directly connected to the National Party (according to National), and it’s possible National are innocent recipients of the donations’

    yes this is eminently plausible!….all done in the best…possible taste.

    Reply
  2. Duker

     /  17th February 2020

    Yes, that’s what parties get all the time $14900 in a group from people they have never heard from , and yet we know Bridges was meeting and having dinner with someone who promised $100k . Did Bridges wonder where the 2x $100k donations went ….did he even ask while having some Chinese fine dining?

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  17th February 2020

    National pay it back ?
    Yes they will, which reminds me that was the spin after the 2005 election when National took $115,000 in broadcasting taxpayer funding and spent it all on ads rather than paying the GST on their larger funding amount… Another innocent error….but sort of paid it back as a donation where some one else paid the GST.

    Reply
    • David

       /  18th February 2020

      Reminds me that back in 1923 when the then National Party did something very similar, shocking carry on. The details are still a bit vague on the National party scandal of 1876 as well and have been conveniently buried by the media.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  18th February 2020

        you showing your deep knowledge of the National Party now…David…your observations of their moral virtue are accurate but your timeline needs …adjusting.

        Reply
      • duperez

         /  18th February 2020

        Details are likely to be vague. A bit Simonish would you say?😊

        Reply
  4. Duker

     /  18th February 2020

    Interesting that SFO isnt using the offences in the Electoral Act to charge the 4 people.
    “The defendants adopted a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem whereby the 2018 donation was split into sums of money less than $15,000, and transferred into the bank accounts of eight people, before being paid to, and retained by, the National Party,” NZ Herald.

    I dont know wheter its because the Electoral Act is unworkable or that the Nats have said to the SFO they wont testify so rule out the party cooperation ( to protect their own officials) and their “brand”

    The Nats made lost of small changes to the donation provisions – S207
    eg 2009 ( during the height of the GFC their mind was busy with minutiae of donations)
    Section 207C: inserted, on 1 March 2009, by section 6 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2009 (2009 No 1).
    Section 207C(1): amended, on 1 January 2011, by section 18(1) of the Electoral (Finance Reform and Advance Voting) Amendment Act 2010 (2010 No 137).
    Section 207C(2): replaced, on 25 March 2014, by section 34 of the Electoral Amendment Act 2014 (2014 No 8).
    Theres a funny provision called a ‘transmitter’ whos not the donor nor the candidate or the party.
    I suppose we can call the ‘ transmitter’ in common parlance -The bagman. Its almost it was setup to provide cover for the party or the candidate
    Electoral Act 1993
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/DLM307519.html
    Subpart 3—General provisions relating to donations
    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1993/0087/latest/DLM1867484.html

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  18th February 2020

      All you’ve said shows there a lots of rules. There are probably lots of rules for reasons. And every single rule will be feverishly studied to see how it can be got around. And the getting around them will grow legal challenges.

      We can get bogged down in the details and swim in the partisanship, but it seems reasonable to suggest the NZFirst incident and the National Party one have the same genesis.

      Which makes the hurling of rocks and insinuations weird.

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  18th February 2020

        Not the same ….we now know there was 2 x $100 k donations to national . Why have we legalised bagmen in political donations. What ever happened to just passing on a cheque from donor to party?
        I can remember say 20 years ago lawyers trust accounts were used to whitewash who was the donors name, but the party knew all along as they all go out directly asking rich pricks for 💰.
        And is Simon telling the truth about ‘ not knowing about the 2nd $100k , as without the JLR phone calls he would say the same about the first $100k when we know he wasn’t anxious to even let the party president know of the money’s existence was he had ‘ideas on what yo spend it on’……really.. is there a slush fund the party president didn’t know about…yet.
        As well it makes a nonsense of the ‘transmitter’ , as Bridges knew the donor and the amount well before the party did. He was planning the’ thank you dinner’ and the ‘special projects’ even before the cash turned up .
        But we now know journos can’t ask Bridges or speculate on the money as they are on notice of defamation, which most have kept quiet on too…..just between them , no need for ‘public to know’ and all that bumpf which is so often trotted out.

        Reply
  1. SFO charges involve two $100k National donations — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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