SFO files charges in relation to NZ First Foundation donations

A media release from the Serious Fraud Office:

Published 29 September 2020

The SFO has filed a charge of ‘Obtaining by Deception’ against two defendants in the New Zealand First Foundation electoral funding case. The charges were filed on 23 September.

The defendants have interim name suppression and so cannot be named or identified at this time. We note, however, that neither defendant is a Minister, sitting MP, or candidate in the upcoming election (or a member of their staff), or a current member of the New Zealand First party.

The SFO has no further comment.

Media release from NZ First:

New Zealand First Fully Exonerated Of All SFO Charges

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters says today’s decision by the Serious Fraud Office exonerates the New Zealand First Party of any electoral law breaches.

Having fully investigated the allegations the SFO has cleared the New Zealand First Party, all of its Ministers, all sitting members of the New Zealand First party, all candidates standing for election and all party employees of any wrongdoing.

“It is a relief after months of this cloud hanging over the party that we have been fully cleared,” stated Mr Peters.

“Unlike the recent National Party donation scandal, no party member has been implicated or charged by the SFO.”

Notwithstanding the cloud being lifted, New Zealand First’s leader also expressed his dismay at the timing and conduct of the SFO decision.

“Whilst the SFO has confirmed that no New Zealand First Minister, parliamentarian or party member broke any electoral laws, the timing of its decision to lay charges against the Foundation constitutes a James Comey-level error of judgement,” said Mr Peters.

“It’s an appalling intrusion in a period when the people begin to think seriously about the shape of their next government.

“It has been amply demonstrated that FBI Director Comey’s groundless findings impacted on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Allegations were made about me in 2008 which the SFO found to be baseless.

“While we respect its independence, the SFO cannot justify the timing of its decision.

“It is quite shocking for any who believe in fair elections that the SFO, one day from overseas voting and four days from advance voting beginning, would interpose itself into the General Election in this poorly conceived fashion.

“The Foundation is an entirely separate entity from the New Zealand First Party but that distinction will be lost on some, and deliberately confused by others,” said Mr Peters.

“The way in which this investigation has been conducted raises serious questions about the conduct of the Serious Fraud Office.

“In my opinion, the SFO has acted unreasonably and without justification both in the way in which the investigation has been conducted and in public announcements the SFO has chosen to make about the investigation in breach of the Serious Fraud Office’s own written policy of not commenting on investigations until the first appearance of any accused facing charges,” stated Mr Peters.

“As a result, the New Zealand First Party has instructed its lawyers to issue proceedings in the High Court against the Serious Fraud Office seeking declarations that the Serious Fraud Office has amounted to an abuse of its statutory powers and has been unreasonable.

“Compounding the SFO’s poor judgement are three other matters. First, the SFO’s still incomplete investigation of foreign money flowing into the National Party. We know they were provided significantly more serious information about the pernicious foreign influence campaign that penetrated the National Party. Yet only a portion of those electoral breaches resulted in charges. Why?

“Second, if voters need to hear from the SFO before the election where are its findings about Labour’s mayoral electoral funding in both Christchurch and Auckland?

“Third, what about the SFO’s investigation into donations made to Labour in 2017?

“How is that fair? It is not.

“Voters will judge for themselves the fairness of the SFO’s actions.

“Notwithstanding today’s exoneration by the SFO, taxpayer-funded and other journalists, those who have spilled litres of ink in trying to destroy New Zealand First, must now confront the truth that not one Minister, MP, or party member has been anything other than fully exonerated,” stated Mr Peters.

“The point also needs to be repeated to those same journalists attempting to smear me and my party, that New Zealand First is completely separate from the Foundation.

“Neither I nor any other party is allowed to make any further comment on this matter because it is now sub-judice.”

As their is a suppression order on the case anything posted here that I deem puts this site at risk may be deleted.

Leave a comment

38 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  29th September 2020

    Bizarre last sentence from Winston. Having made his case he claims no-one else can say anything. Bollocks.

    Reply
    • Kimbo

       /  29th September 2020

      Yes, and after having bent over back wards to explain that the NZ Party has nothing to do with the NZ First Foundation, and neither does he! OK, Winston, so if you aren’t connected with it… 😉

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th September 2020

        Herald says the defendants are [Deleted].
        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12368919

        [I can’t see them saying that in the linked article. They may have edited the article. As a precaution I need too delete what you’ve said, even though it was not identifying any person. PG]

        Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  29th September 2020

        It’s terrible when [deleted] do illegal stuff behind your back.

        Reply
        • Kimbo

           /  29th September 2020

          What can one say? “It’s so hard to get good help, lately…” 😉

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  29th September 2020

          “It’s terrible when [deleted] do illegal stuff behind your back”

          Since the SFO has used the same ‘obtaining by deception charges’ that were laid after the national party salami donation arrangements were exposed, I assume the NZF Foundation has similar $14,995 donations which fly under the radar.
          Judith was a well known fund raiser for National, we expect of course that that she wasnt aware of any straw donors at $14,900 to cover a ‘big kuhuna’ name that might embarrass the party .

          Reply
          • John J Harrison

             /  29th September 2020

            Duker, clearly you are a NZ First fan boy.
            Peters who claimed to be the champion of transparency has, according to the N Z Herald , unsuccessfully tried to gag the SFO from publishing the fact that 2 individuals are being charged with obtaining by deception and were involved with the NZ First Foundation.
            Why would he do that Duker ?

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  29th September 2020

              just wondering why you need TWO caregivers JJ…are you in a bad ..way?

            • John J Harrison

               /  29th September 2020

              Blazer, what a strange question on a topic devoted to Peters.
              For your information I am as fit as a buck rat as my “ caregivers “ can attest.
              Any more questions of a personal nature ?

            • Blazer

               /  29th September 2020

              You invite the questions because you boast.

              ‘Fit as a buck rat’!…the pics of you ..don’t attest to that.

              Why do you mention your caregivers are Thai?

          • What on earth is a ‘kuhuna’ ?

            Reply
    • duperez

       /  29th September 2020

      Hell, unusual for Peters to take that approach over such an issue. Apparently he used to be a lawyer.

      Actually I can remember the last time I heard similar. It was from a chap who used to be a lawyer too. He was talking about party membership, and aspects pertaining to that and relating to charges against people connected with his party. It was Simon Bridges treading very delicately in a radio interview.

      If Bridges had done anything else I would have been past shocked. Ditto Peters.

      There are no winners of course. Peters wanted a total ‘nothing to see here.’ Others were hoping and certainly expecting Peters to be eviscerated.

      Reply
  2. artcroft

     /  29th September 2020

    So the public won’t know the final outcome of the investigation prior to the election. 😦

    Reply
  3. Kimbo

     /  29th September 2020

    And watch him get leverage off of this, as idiots believe this is all part of the same dark sinister big business Winebox/Teapot tapes/leaked Super details plot that has been out to stop Winston and NZ First exposing the truth….for years!! 😉

    Reply
  4. Corky

     /  29th September 2020

    Well, Winston now has an excuse if NZ Last gets the boot.

    Reply
  5. Brian Johnston

     /  29th September 2020

    Peters grandstanding as usual.
    This will favour Peters, not go against him.
    Looking back what has NZ First achieved. Nothing.
    Come election time Peters reinvents himself every time.
    I believe people have finally woken up.
    This time NZ First is finished.
    Peters currently, and as deputy PM, is there on the party list.
    If he should be in parliament at all he should be on the back bench.
    No list MP should hold a portfolio.
    Lets get rid of MMP.
    I would be happy to see the Greens finished as well.
    Recycling in NZ is farcical.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  29th September 2020

      What an uninformed rant… Bill English before last election was a list MP he had finally in 2014 gave up the pretense of being a Southland based Mp ( he was chair of the Haitatai branch in Wellington when he got the nomination from the party)

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  29th September 2020

      ‘No list MP should hold a portfolio.’

      This clause would have decimated Nationals front..bench.

      Reply
  6. Maggy Wassilieff

     /  29th September 2020

    When even Andrew Geddis describes the intertwining of NZ First Party and NZ First Foundation as a duck, you can be sure we’ll be hearing a lot of quacking in the next few days.

    Geddis says it’s very hard for NZ First and the foundation to be separated because the foundation was set up by the party, which then benefited from it.

    “So I don’t care what technical legalities you may throw at it, if it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/427198/winston-peters-holds-important-media-conference-as-sfo-releases-nz-first-foundation-investigation-statement

    Reply
    • Geddis was fairly scathing of Winston’s distancing himself and the party from the Foundation.

      Reply
      • John J Harrison

         /  29th September 2020

        [Deleted.]

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  29th September 2020

          That what Bridges said too…but he’s on tape arranging a thank you dinner with Mr $100k who mysteriously ended up giving zilch ..officially that is.

          Reply
    • Corky

       /  29th September 2020

      Winston is everything; knows everything concerning NZ1. That part of the NZ1 apparatus, no matter how tenuous, could be compartmentalized from Winston without him knowing is hard to believe.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  29th September 2020

      Same template National use AFAIK.

      Reply
  7. At 1-2% in the polls NZ First looks to be stuffed anyway. I think this will make little to no difference.

    Reply
  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  29th September 2020

    Stuff reporting NZF tried to injunct the SFO to stop it releasing that statement. And:
    Stuff contacted NZ First Foundation trustees Brian Henry and Doug Woolerton earlier on Tuesday, both declined to comment on the SFO investigation.
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300118811/election-2020-winston-peters-threatens-to-take-serious-fraud-office-to-court-as-two-charged-over-nz-first-foundation

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  29th September 2020

      Looks like Winston will have something to do for a year or two anyway.

      Reply
      • Maggy Wassilieff

         /  29th September 2020

        Oh dear..
        He mightn’t get his New Year Knighthood this time around.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  29th September 2020

          I think he’s like Bolger, not interested in one
          Unlike a certain duo who couldn’t wait for their baubles

          Reply
  9. John J Harrison

     /  29th September 2020

    Pete, late to the post but was one of the parties charged [deleted, I don’t want any references to who it could be. PG]

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  29th September 2020

      Ask Judith about her fund raisers for the party or any related entities.
      National always announces some big numbers for donations that seem to happen just before or after election day …how unusual (aren’t released till voting over)
      20/09/17 Go bloodstock $50k and UUNZ institute of Business

      John J must be dissapointe that the unknown persons are not NZF MPs , while nats MPs were donkey deep in their 2x $100k donations that led to an upcoming trial

      Reply
  10. Duker

     /  29th September 2020

    National party has it’s ‘foundations’ too
    Apart from the big one named after the party , there seems to be others ..one little one called Timaru nationalist Trust was revealed after last election. Strange that Timaru should have one but not the bigger centres
    They are very common in Australia but the law makes them related parties so must be completely included. Some state laws are different so allow some creative fund raising

    One thing that has me curious is company political donations aren’t tax deductable but is a foundation or trust a different category?

    Reply

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