Who does the accounts for NZ First?

There are more and more questions over NZ First and their accounts. Both NZPA and the Dominion Post have said that is both NZ First’s Auditor and their Accountant. Surely not?

So can someone find out the following:

  1. Who was NZ First’s Auditor in 2005?
  2. Who was NZ First’s Accountant in 2005?
  3. Who was NZ First’s Treasurer in 2005?
  4. Who was NZ First’s Party Secretary in 2005?

To the best of my iformation the Party Secretary in 2005 was not some poor office person (as Helen suggests) but who was an NZ First MP at the time.

Also Audrey Young blogged in February 2008 that the Party Treasurer in 2007 was also a former NZ First MP – . Was he also Treasurer in 2005?

And then we have an interview on Nine to Noon with Peter Williams. Parts are amusing as he rants about Matthew Hooton, and parts are clearly wrong.

Williams said around 5 minutes 20 secs in:

The money that they paid, I think it was about $80,000 wasn’t it? … The moneys that were subscribed by the were paid to the , and in turn the paid the money to NZ First.

But the Spencer Trust was set up in August 2005, and the Vela donations were between 1999 and 2003.

No wonder the SFO doesn’t go along with Mr Williams insistence that it can all be cleared up in five minutes and his latest line that they have made one little mistake in 15 years of flawless behaviour.

Two other stories of note. Martin Kay in the Dom Post says:

When The Dominion Post first put to him in July that NZ First received money through a trust, he said through a spokesman: “It’s a lie.”

Mr Peters’ brother, Wayne, is one of three Spencer trustees. Fellow trustee Grant Currie said on Monday that its only purpose was to channel money to NZ First.

So Peters said it was a lie, yet the lie was his.I am sure Helen just sees it all as another innocent mistake.

Ben Thomas at NBR also points out NZ First are recycling excuses:

New Zealand First’s explanation for why it didn’t disclose a $25,000 donation allegedly funneled through the Spencer Trust will sound strangely familiar to Winston watchers.

The party’s auditor said yesterday it failed to declare the $25,000 donation from Sir Robert Jones in the 2005 year because it slipped people’s attention “during a change in administrative staff.”

That is now the second time – and for the second separate set of accounts – that the party has used the excuse of a personnel changeover for ostensibly breaching electoral finance disclosure laws.

Like all Winston Peters’ rhetorical greatest hits – “if you stop telling lies about me,  I’ll stop telling the truth about you,” for example – “administrative error” may have been too exquisite a line to only use once.

In August this year New Zealand First was let off on the late filing of its return of donations for the 2007 year, because the accepted its explanation the delay was caused by “changes in the upper levels of office holders such that many had not been through the donation return process before.”

New Zealand First missed the April 30 deadline for filing its donation returns. When the late return did arrive it didn’t disclose any donations – so why the delay? It should have been a simple matter to verify no donations over $10,000 (the minimum amount that has to be declared) had been received.

The party denied media reports that its president and secretary had been waiting for the return of Parliamentary party leader Winston Peters from overseas to sign off the accounts (which would have been unusual, since he is not a legal office holder as far as the party is concerned).

Instead the secretary offered up the “office-holder changeover” scenario, and aid there had been a miscommunication between the treasurer and the auditor. The commission decided that was a reasonable excuse, and so no breach of the Act had been committed.

Given how long it seems to take the New Zealand First party to sort out its finances after these periods of flux, the commission may be tempted to ask office holders to double check the zero-return filed for 2007. It is after all apparently quite easy for cash to slip between the cracks in times of HR churn.

I think it would be very prudent for the Electoral Commission to double check the zero return for 2007, especially before the deadline for prosecution expires. The fact that the Party President is on record as referring to a large anonymous donation (a stance he has never publicly recanted) gives them more than enough grounds to start checking.

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