Phil Kitchin’s investigative prowess is at work, as he reveals up to $150,000 of donations to NZ First from the Vela family to NZ First or Winston Peters.
A special investigation by The Dominion Post can reveal that a series of donations from accounts linked to the Vela family – heavyweight operators in the racing and fishing industries – and totalling at least $150,000 were made to the party.
But NZ First sources say nothing like that much Vela money was deposited in the party’s bank account.
Well they seem to have so many. Their main account. Then the secret one that not even Party President Dail Jones knew about. And then the other secret one for Winston’s legal expenses.
The Vela family has an estimated wealth of $180 million, according to the National Business Review’s 2007 rich list.
The cheques from Vela family fishing and thoroughbred companies were written out to NZ First from around the year 1999 to 2003.
Hmmn isn’t Winston Minister of Racing? And hasn’t he delivered a massive amount of money to the industry? And he has been very involved in fisheries issues also as an MP.
The Vela donations were made in accordance with electoral laws, which allow sums of less than $10,000 to be donated anonymously.
Yes and no. If over a calendar year they exceeded $10,000 from the same source then they must be disclosed.
It is understood most of the cheques were collected by Ross Meurant when he worked for NZ First as an adviser to Mr Peters.
Mr Meurant, a former National MP, was at that time also a fellow director and shareholder of Digital Global Maps Ltd with Philip Vela, a senior family figure.
It is understood Mr Meurant sometimes worked out of Vela’s offices at Te Rapa, Hamilton, while advising Mr Peters.
Meurant was actually employed by The Parliamentary Service, not NZ First. It is an usual situation to have a parliamentary employee collecting money for a party. It is also unusual to ave a barrister touting for money to pay his own legal bills!
The cheques were understood to be for amounts of $10,000 or less – which meant they did not need to be declared, unless the party knew it was receiving more than $10,000 from the same company or person in a calendar year.
The Dominion Post understands the cheques were written out to NZ First from Vela bank accounts including PJ Vela, PM Vela, Vela Fishing, Vela Quota Number 1 and Number 2 accounts and Pencarrow Stud.
Now if these were all seperate legal entities – ie seperate companies and people, then they avoid disclosure. But if they are just seperate bank accounts for the same entity, then you have to add them together.
The ones I would be interested in are Vela Quota Number 1 and Number 2. Are they seperate companies or seperate bank accounts for the same company?Tags: anonymous donations, Phil Kitchin, Philip Vela, Ross Meurant, Vela Family, Winston First