Herald confirms trust not set up at time of donation

October 28th, 2008 at 6:55 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Mr Henry – who has a close relationship with Mr Peters – said yesterday that the money was held in a lawyer’s trust account until the Susan Couch trust was set up properly and incorporated in September.

The trust account was that of Dennis Gates, another trustee of the Susan Couch trust and also a solicitor for Mr Peters.

So the money owed to the taxpayer went into a trust account of Winston’s solictor and then months later transferred (with interest) to the Susan Couch trust account controlled by Winston’s solictor and barrister.

Mr Henry said he asked for the money for the Susan Couch trust.

“Heaps of idiots turned down donations so I rang up Winston and said ‘hey, I’ve got a charitable trust here which won’t turn you down’,” he said.

Not idiots Mr Henry. People who realise that there is a moral component to this issue – the money is owed to the taxpayer and shouldn’t be given away to pet charities. Also these “idiots” probably calculated that they would lose more money in the long term by accepting the donation.

The setting up of the trust was not yet complete and final clearance from Inland Revenue was required.

So four months after the donations were made, the charity that got half the $158,000 isn’t yet registered as a charity.

I guess they couldn’t find any established charity to take their money.

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Dom Post on Couch Trust

October 27th, 2008 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports on the trust which has received the money that was owed to the taxpayers by NZ First:

A trust set up to receive half the misspent $158,000 that NZ First was ordered to repay was not registered till three months after Winston Peters announced he had donated the money to charity, documents reveal. …

Mr Peters’ so-called “blood-brother” and lawyer Bryan Henry, his solicitor Dennis Gates, and Mr Henry’s colleague Brian Coburn have full control over how the money is spent, including the ability to pay themselves all reasonable expenses. …

Ms Couch is not listed as a beneficiary or a patron, and the only mention of her is in the title of the trust. The three trustees have full control over where the money goes.

Meantime more fascinating information emerges on the trustees and settlor.  Whale Oil blogs:

Kevin Gillespie is heavily involved in the Trinity Forest tax avoidance case – with links not to the Cook Islands as Winston is so fond of, but the British Virgin Islands. Gillespie held all the directorships for The Trinity Foundation (and related entities) and was a shareholder of The Trinity Foundation

Fact – Winston and his legal advisors are and continue to be involved with an Accountant at the centre of NZ’s largest tax avoidance case where the defendants were found guilty of a $3.7 billion tax avoidance

Now I hasten to add this is tax avoidance, not evasion. So Mr Gillespie personally has not been found to have done anything wrong. But as Winston has spent decades railing against corporates who avoid tax, it is ironic he donates to a trust controlled by his personal lawyers and an accountant in the centre of a $3.7 billion tax avoidance.

There are multiple links to media stories over on Whale’s blog.

Also just to show how small NZ is:

And the individual lawyers involved and named as promoters in the Trinity case?

None other than the same lawyers used by Vela Fisheries in their Court of Appeal case which surprisingly related to – TAX.

A very small world it is.

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The Susan Couch – Crime Victims Charitable Trust

October 25th, 2008 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

Kiwiblog readers have been doing detective work and have discovered the Susan Couch – Crime Victims Charitable Trust was registered only a few weeks ago on the 10th of September 2008.

It’s trust deed is online at the Companies Office.

The trust deed was signed on 15 August 2008 and the application was signed on 20 August 2008. But Winston announced the donation around 16 June 2008. So how did he make a donation to a trust that seemingly was not then formed?

The contact person is Brian Coburn of Hesketh Henry in Auckland. He is one of the three Trustees. The other two are Brian Henry and Dennis Gates.

Yes two of the three Trustees are Winston’s personal lawyers – his solicitor and his barrister!! Half the $158,000 has gone to a trust run by both his personal lawyers.

The settlor is Kevin Gillespie, an Auckland Accountant. Gillespie, Henry and Gates are all Directors of Goldman Henry Capital Management and in business together. They had some problems with the Securities Commission in 2004 incidentally, after the Commission found their prospectus did not comply with securities law and omitted a material particular. The investment statement was also found “likely to deceive, mislead, or confuse with regard to particulars that are material to the offer of securities”.

The Trust objects include “such other objects which the Board from time to time declares provided that such objects and purposes are charitable and involve the support and rehabilitation of crime victims”.

Board members can get remuneration for services rendered to the Trust. In fact it specifically allows such remuneration even if the work only comes about by virtue of being a Trustee. Note I am not suggesting any Trustee has received any money – just that as with most Trusts, they can.

There is no reference to Susan Couch in the trust deed, except being the name of the trust. Couch is not listed as the Patron, and the three Trustees have total power over the Trust.  She is not listed specifically as a beneficiary either. Again the Trustees have total discretion over who the money goes to (so long as within the objects), and Couch has no rights or say at all. So the Herald is wrong when they say it is “A trust for Susan Couch”.

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A deeply cynical act

October 25th, 2008 at 9:54 am by David Farrar

Few acts are more cynical than NZ First’s giving $78,000 to The Susan Couch and Crime Victims Charitable Trust (trustee: Brian Henry) instead of repaying the taxpayer the $158,000 of taxpayer money illegally spent by NZ First in the 2005 campaign.

What is even worse, is that the $78,000 isn’t really from the members and grossroots of NZ First. The Vela Family donated $80,000 to NZ First in late 2007, to allow this donation to be made.

So what you actually have is a very wealthy, foreign domiciled, racing industry family has donated $80,000 to NZ First (whose Leader has forced the Government to pur massive funding into the racing industry) so they could give the money to the Susan Couch trust – and claim this is somehow paying the taxpayer back.

I joked at the time that they had probably donated the money to the Spencer Trust. Instead it has gone to a trust partly controlled by Winston’s lawyer. Ms Couch will be Patron of the Tust which suggests she won’t even be a Trustee herself – are there other Trustees?

To be fair to Brian Henry, he has been acting for free for Ms Couch in her fight to sue Corrections, and he is definitely on the side of the angels on this occasion for his actions to help Couch. While critical of Henry’s statements and actions over Owen Glenn, I make no such criticism in regards to this issue.

But that doesn’t change the fact that NZ First should be paying the taxpayer back, not making charitable donations on our behalf, and that having decided to make such donations they are ill-advised to make the major donation to a trust controlled by their lawyer.

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The Privileges Committee Report

September 22nd, 2008 at 8:20 pm by David Farrar

The Privileges Committee report has just been released and is online here.

I will comment on it shortly once I have read it. It is 280 pages long.

By a majority vote, they have recommended Peters be censured by the House. I can not recall the last time an MP was censured.

The majority includes United Future’s Peter Dunne, the Greens’ Russel Norman and Te Ururoa Flavvel from the Maori Party. This is every party on the Privileges Committee except members of Labour First. Note Peter Dunne is a Minister in the Government and the Greens have a co-operation agreement with Labour and the Maori Party abstain on supply and confidence.

They note on the issue of Henry refusing to disclose who suggested Henry approach Glenn for money:

We have received advice that legal professional privilege relates to communications made for the purpose of conveying legal advice and that it does not relate to the identity of a client, particularly when the issue does not relate to the communication of legal advice.

We note that legal professional privilege should not be used as an excuse to withhold information requested by the Privileges Committee, particularly in circumstances where this privilege does not apply.

They make the point that they have required a high standard of proof for their findings, as the allegations are serious – beyond the normal balance of probabilities.

They have determined that there was no debt from Peters to Henry, so no adverse finding there. But they have found the $100,000 constituted a gift as it benefited Peters:

We consider that the payment was of benefit to Mr Peters. Mr Henry’s work on the election petition did not create a direct legal obligation for Mr Peters to pay Mr Henry’s fees. However, Mr Henry told us that Mr Peters “knows that he owes me in the moral sense…”,18 and most clients would acknowledge such a moral obligation to pay a barrister.

A third-party payment to a member’s barrister benefits the member by discharging the moral (and potential legal) obligation to make payment and also by enabling the barrister to provide more assistance to the member in the future. Further, in these particular circumstances the payment contributed to funding an election petition which, if it had been successful, would have been of political benefit to Mr Peters.

They further note:

It is clear that the intent of the donor in this case was not to benefit the barrister. It was the member’s legal expenses that were being contributed to, not the barrister’s wellbeing. Mr Henry’s actions on receipt of Mr Glenn’s money were also unusual. Mr Henry wrote a “pro forma” invoice for GST and income tax purposes. We do not believe this is the normal response of the recipient of a gift. For a GST invoice to have been written, there must have been a taxable supply of services by Mr Henry. The relevant services were received by the member (or his solicitor, Mr Gates, on his behalf).

Together, these elements show clearly that the payment constituted a gift to Mr Peters.

On the issue of whether Peters knew:

The majority of us believe it is extremely unlikely that Mr Peters and Mr Glenn could have had a conversation on that date without the issue of a donation being raised, even if the original contact with Mr Glenn had been by Mr Henry, as claimed by Mr Peters and Mr Henry. The majority of us consider that the sequence of telephone calls followed immediately by an email containing bank account details indicates that the topic must have arisen during one or both of those conversations. It would have assisted our consideration if Mr Peters or Mr Henry had been able to recall more detail of their telephone conversation. Given the evidence before us, the majority of us concluded that Mr Peters had some knowledge of Mr Glenn’s intention to make a donation.

And their conclusion:

The majority of us find that Mr Peters had some knowledge of the $100,000 donation. Further, we find that Mr Peters, having an understanding of the arrangement by which funds were raised by Mr Henry, needed to make an honest attempt to file a correct return. For both these reasons, the majority of us find that a contempt occurred.

The proposed penalty:

Making a false or misleading return is a serious matter, akin to misleading the House. The majority of us therefore recommend that Mr Peters be censured for knowingly providing false or misleading information on a return of pecuniary interests, and ordered to file, within seven days of the House so ordering, amended returns for the years ended 31 January 2006, 2007, and 2008 covering any gifts, debts, or payments in kind that he has not previously registered. We request that the registrar ensure that the amended returns are published, recording that they are made subject to an order of the House.

This could be interesting, as it means any other donation to Peters legal fees, in excess of $500, has to be disclosed – if the House accepts the recommendation.

Now on the part regarding who paid for the $40,000 to Clarkson. Brian Henry is saying that as the cheque was from Wayne Peters’ trust account, he saw this as a reimbursement by Winston personally. Hilarious.

Now onto the letter from the SFO. The Director makes it very clear he got advise on whether to inform the Committee, and he has also bent over backwards to be fair to the donors who paid the $40,000 by redacting their names. He even asks the Privileges Committee not to order him to supply further information, even though he acknowledges a request from the Privileges Committee over-rides the secrecy provisions of the Serious Fraud Act.

The money laundering around the $40,000 is fascinating. Brian Henry did pay the $40,000 but the day before he sent Thompson WIlson (the law firm where two of the Spencer Trustees then worked)  his bank account details.

The Spencer Trust only has $15,400 being left over donations from Donor A. Then Person B (not Winston Peters we are told) lent the Trust $24,600 so they could pay $40,000 to Brian Henry  on 5 April.

Donor A (almpost certainly the Velas) then donated 4 cheques of $9,999 on the 7th of April 2006. Each cheque was from a different subsidiary company.

This allowed Person B’s loan to be repaid on 7 April.

What this means is that Donor A (almost certainly the Velas) personally donated $40,000 to pay off the $40,000 debt Peters owed Clarkson. He has to now declare this on his amended returns.

This raises massive issues relating to the conduct of his portfolios. The whole idea of disclosure is that the transparency it brings to whether Government decisions are affected by donations or gifts to an MP.

So the Minister for Racing in 2006 had Donor A – almost certainly the Velas, pay a $40,000 debt on his behalf. The Velas are multi-millionaires in the racing industry.  And the Minister of Racing convinces the Government – against Treasury advice – to provide lots of money to the racing industry.

Does Helen Clark not think that this gift should have been disclosed as it strikes at the heart of decision making in her Government? And no it is nothing to do with NZ First – this is a personal gift to the Minister of Racing from persons massively affected by the policies he is responsible for in his portfolio.

Helen actually has three decisions to make. They are:

  1. Does she sack Peters as a Minister for breaking the Cabinet Manual and not disclosing a $100,000 gift (let alone the multiple lies Peters has told)
  2. Having the $100,000 gift declared, does she allow Peters to keep it? Probably as it was paid to Henry, not Peters – but here is the big problem for her.
  3. The $40,000 from the Velas (assuming it is them) has to now be filed on the Register by Peters. Clark has to now decide whether she lets him keep the $40,000.

Here is the Cabinet Manual quote from section 2.79:

Ministers who accept gifts worth more than the prescribed value must not only disclose them to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests of Members of Parliament, but also must relinquish them, unless they obtain the express permission of the Prime Minister to retain them.

So it is clear Helen has to decide whether Peters keeps the $40,000 gift (payment of a debt) from the Velas.

Now how corrupt will she look, if she says it is okay for her Minister of Racing to take and keep $40,000 from a family/company which has benefited hugely from the decisions of the Minister of Racing. He managed to force through millions of dollars of funding of racing prizes, against the advice of Treasury.

Clark has to make a decision on this. Peters has to relinquish the gift unless she gives her express permission he can keep it.

No wonder Winston wanted the SFO evidence suppressed. It was bad enough that NZ First had benefited by huge donations from the Velas, but to have it revealed that Peters personally was gifted $40,000 from them is hugely damaging.

Now it is possible the donations were not from the Velas but read the SFO letter and it looks highly likely. We should know more when Peters does his amended returns.

And as you consider all this, consider what depths the ethical standards of the Clark Government have descended to. Clark condones a Minister who:

  1. breaks the rules of the Register of Pecuniary Interests
  2. breaks the rules of the Cabinet Manual
  3. fails to disclose a $100,000 gift
  4. tells multiple lies about it
  5. gives false evidence to the Privileges Committee
  6. benefits with $100,000 towards his legal fees from a billionaire whom he then lobbies to be made Consul to Monaco
  7. has a $40,000 debt paid off by a company/family that benefits greatly from policy decisions he makes as Minister of Racing
  8. has filed false donation returns to the Electoral Commission

Any one of these should be enough for dismissal arguably. But Clark is keeping him on despite all of the above. Could standards possibly get any lower?

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More changes to Winston’s stories

September 21st, 2008 at 8:10 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young has a very useful blog entry analysing what Winston says now, and what he said before the truth came out.

As readers will know, Winston is outraged because the SFO passed on evidence to the Privleges Committee that proved Peters and Henry lied. In Winston’s world it is outraegous if law enforcement agencies expose his lies.

Audrey notes:

Peters confirmed that the Spencer Trust had reimbursed his lawyer Brian Henry the $40,000 Henry had personally paid for costs awarded against Peters in the Tauranga electoral petition, talking to drive-time host Larry Williams on Friday night:

This is quite crucial because if anyone but Peters paid that $40,000 debt then beyond doubt that had to be declared on the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

”Mr Henry paid the money initially. He was later reimbursed out of the trust account from the Spencer Trust funds. In that sense yes,” Peters said. ”But that was a trust to assist the New Zealand First Party and any actions it might take. What’s wrong with that?”

What is wrong is Winston failed to disclose this. Just as NZ First failed to disclose donations from the Spencer Trust.  This is not a series of one off “mistakes”.

The great service done by the SFO investigation has been to expose the failure of NZ First and Peters personally to disclose funding from the Spencer Trust. And in case anyone really thinks it was all a mistake – consider the fact that these “mistakes” only came to light due to the SFO. Peters did not at any stage move to correct on his own initiative his public statements. He only admits to something once law enforcement agencies pry it out of him.

It means that the information Peters gave in a speech on August 20 to supposedly “clarify” what had been said about the $40,000 at the privileges committee two days earlier was actually not true.

“Mr Henry paid the money [$40,000] to ensure the bill was paid in time – and he was later reimbursed by myself,” Peters told Grey Power in Upper Hutt.

“He checked his records yesterday and found this was indeed the case.”

A clarifying letter was sent to the privileges committee to that effect.

People should be very aware of this point. The lie which has been exposed by the SFO is not about what was said at Privileges Commitee in response to Russel Norman. Most people would accept that you could be mistaken when responding to an unexpected query on the spot.

But what we have here is Peters claiming two days later, in a formal speech, that he had “checked the records” and Peters had reimbursed Henry. And they were so certain of this info, they sent a letter to the Privileges Committee stating this.

Their claim and letter was false. The Prime Minister once again keeps Winston with his baubles of office despite the fact he has been exposed at deliberately deceiving the public and the Privileges Committee. This was no mistake made in the heat of the moment. It was a statement made two days later which they claimed was based on a check of records.

Peters’ admission about the reimbursement also raises questions about whether the $40,000 should have been declared to Parliament in 2007 in the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

There is no question that it should have been.

We now know the Spencer Trust was run by Winstons’ brother, law partner of his brother and a staff member in Winston’s office. And it paid personal bills on behalf of Peters. So Audrey reminds us of this press conference:

Q: Mr Peters are you seriously saying that people are meant to believe that you don’t know what the ST is used for?
A: Yes I do. You know why? Because those are the facts.
Q: We asked your brother yesterday and he wouldn’t answer the question.
A: Well Audrey you should show a bit of knowledge, experience and a bit of commonsense, right? Go and ask him again.
Q: Who should we ask?
A: You’re entitled to ask it all the questions you like.
Q: But you’re not answering them.
A: How can I answer them if I’m not in charge of the trust.
Q: Because you know what that trust is using the money for.
A: Sorry I don’t.
Q: Really?
A: Well I just said no I don’t.

And as you read what are really bare faced lies (unless you think Winston can somehow not know that the Spencer Trust paid a $40,000 debt on his behalf), remember once again that Helen Clark has no problems keeping Peters on.

Audrey also goes back to the original Privileges Committee hearing when Brian Henry lied and insisted he paid for it personally (you would know the difference between paying $40,000 out of your own pocket and temporarily paying $40,000 and getting reimbursed). He obviously did not want to admit the Spencer Trust effectively paid for it, so in response to an incredulous Wayne Mapp:

Mapp: Are you seriously suggesting that you would’ve paid $40,000 in court costs which were against Mr Peters and you advised Mr Peters of that fact, and that Mr Peters would not have understood that that would’ve effectively come out of the $100,000 – well the donations received?

Henry: Mr Mapp, I’m not ‘seriously’ saying it; I am saying it. I’m not suggesting it. I’m telling you exactly what I did…..So don’t slur it – this is what I did. I’d like to finish with Mr Mapp….Mr Mapp I am telling you what I did. So please do not slur it or belittle it by saying ‘Are you seriously suggesting….’ This is actually what I did. You mightn’t like it but that’s what I did.

Such outrage, all faked.

Whale Oil also blogs about further revelations from Spencer Trustee Grant Currie. On radio Currie said that they spent money on behalf of NZ First, after consulting with “someone” who was not a duly elected office holder of NZ First. That someone would be McClay on behalf of Peters I suspect.

You have to wonder if there is a single MP or office holder in NZ First with any spine? The party president didn’t even know of the Spencer Trust. Money meant for NZ First went into the trust, and then spent on behalf of the party bypassing the authority of the NZ First President and Board.

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On a minor note

September 18th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

One key issue in the Privileges Committee inquiry has been the $40,000 payment to Bob Clarkson for costs. This was ordered by court in the name of Winston Peters, so anyone paying it on his behalf most certainly would need to have been declared.

Brian Henry says he personally paid the $40,000 – meaning he should have been listed in Winston’s register.

After media and blog attention focused on this, Brian and Winston claimed a couple of days later that it was all sorted out as Winston had repaid Brian shortly thereafter.

My question is, was this ever submitted formally to the Privileges Committee, and if so was any proof of repayment supplied? Anyone know?

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So what really happened

September 18th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on what Winston claims happen. It is fit only as a bedtime story for five year olds, or the Prime Minister.

Today I am going to blog what I think actually happened, and how Winston created this trouble for himself. This is based on the evidence to date, and some guesswork.

He started off only being hypocritical, but in hiding that hypocrisy he eventually told a lie, and then to cover that lie up, he had to tell many many more. Here is my timeline of events:

  1. In August 2005 Peters asked for a meeting with Glenn. They met, and then his staffer Roger McClay asked for a donation to NZ First which was declined. It is fascinating that NZ First tried to solicit money from Labour’s largest donor prior to the 2005 election. One can speculate on why they thought this would be productive and whether this indicated they had already decided to back Labour, but that is not germane.
  2. In late November 2005 a staffer (probably Roger McClay) approached Glenn again for a donation to the petition. That staffer probably had the discussion with Glenn, that Henry claims he had. They do not want to reveal that it is probably Roger McClay as the thought of Winston not knowing the fundraising details of his own staff is even more unlikely than their other stories.
  3. In December 2005 Peters directly solicited a donation for the Tauranga electoral petition, pretty much the way Owen Glenn describes it with a phone call on 5 December, another call after that, and then the 14 December call. All the evidence supports this. The reason Glenn now said yes is because he saw it as helping Labour, and he checked with Mike Williams who said it would not be unhelpful.
  4. Peters obviously took the call from Glenn, and then told Henry to send the bank account details.
  5. The request to Glenn to keep the donation confidential was important. The NZ First brand was built on anti big business donations, and accepting $100,000 for legal expenses would weaken their brand.
  6. If Glenn had said yes to the original request to donate to NZ First, then that would have been paid to the Spencer Trust I am sure. It was vital that the public never know of the funding from big business. Peters and Henry had constructed things very carefully so they could avoid disclosure (arguably) legally. At this stage nothing has been done wrong, save the hypocrisy and maybe the failure to disclose on the Register of Interests (the way they structured it gives them an arguable case though).
  7. Then on 15 February 2008, Owen Glenn revealed he had donated to another political party (which is how he saw it). That got some minor interest in the media as to which other party.
  8. Even worse on 19 February 2008 he revealed he was in line to become Honorary Consul to Monaco, that Helen had already approved it, and he was just waiting for Winston to “get off his arse and do the paperwork”.
  9. At this point Peters would have realised it would be a bad look if the public realised Glenn had donated $100,000 to benefit Peters, and he was under consideration for Consul. Plus it undermines their no big donor brand. So he would be worried. But as long as Glenn kept the confidence it was al okay. Only Peters and Henry (and maybe McClay) knew of the donation. The media could guess but could not prove.
  10. But then disaster struck in the form of Dail Jones on 20 February 2008. He revealed to the media that there had been a large mystery donation to NZ First in December 2007 and that it was closer to $100,000 than $10,000. Owen Glenn also refused to rule out donating to NZ First, saying through his PR firm that people should speak to the party. This created huge media interest.
  11. Now people (including me) started adding 2+2 together to get 5, and thought the December 2007 donation was from Owen Glenn. Peters furiously denied it. Peters was right ironically.
  12. Peters was furious as the allegation was wrong. There were two secret donations – not one. And Dail Jones had accidentally come close to exposing both of them. The allegation that the Nov 2007 donation was from Owen Glenn was wrong, but to prove it wrong would have meant revealing the Spencer Trust. No wonder he was furious at Jones (to be fair to Jones he just told the truth and if you run a secret trust without your Party President in the loop, you run the risk he may blunder into it)
  13. Now again at this stage no lies had been told. It was all hypocritical but Peters denials had been correct.
  14. The next day Helen talks to Owen Glenn and he informs her of the donation. She rings Peters and he denies it to her. Now probably in Peters’ mind he did not lie, only deceive. He would have been careful to use language which ruled out a donation to the party or to him, but not to his legal fees.
  15. The fact he doesn’t contact Glenn to ask what this is about, is incidentially proof he obviously knew. If he did not know, he would have asked. Now again at this stage no major lie, just some deception.
  16. On 24 February he does another half lie denying there was any mystery donation at all. In fact there was – from the Spencer Trust. Peters probably justifies this because the Spencer Trust is not a mystery to him, and he knows the $80,000 was made up of individual Vela cheques of $10,000 into the trust, so in his mind there was no big anonymous donation.
  17. On 28 February 2008 we have the infamous “No” press conference. In hindsight this was a fatal mistake. By going so over the top, he cut off his wriggle room for later. He thought he was on safe ground denying Owen Glenn donated to NZ First, but he also said No to Guyon Espiner saying “Can I just clarify with you. Are you saying you have never received one dollar from Owen Glenn or any associate of Owen Glenn” and that was right on the edge of being a lie. The trouble with having a big No prop, is you can’t suddenly stop using it, so he waved the No sign again. A big mistake.
  18. Now at this stage Peters has not told a fully formed lie – many half lies, but he looks to have got away with his denials as no one asked exactly the right question. Again it is because Peters knew exactly what the donation was about, that he could so carefully deny it.
  19. Then in July 2008 someone leaked to Audrey Young the e-mails between Owen Glenn and Steve Fisher where Glenn says “Steve – are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?”. She published these on 12 July 2008.
  20. Peters responds that Glenn did not donate to NZ First. This is technically true. Glenn referred to NZ First when he should have said Winston’s legal bills. Winston is a great nit picker and puts huge reliance on the difference. At this stage again no outright lie from Peters.
  21. But he again becomes his own worst enemy when on 14 July he attacks the NZ Herald can calls on Tim Murphy and Audrey Young to resign. He offers them a look at the party books. He does this because he knew the donation went into Brian Henry’s account. But he is most unfair in attacking the Herald. He knows that email is from Owen Glenn, and they reported it in good faith. It is not the Herald’s fault that Glenn used loose language around his donation. His attack is over the top and Peters at his worst. It is one thing to deny the accuracy of the e-mail by playing semantic games, but it is another thing to try and take the moral high ground as Peters did.
  22. On the 16th of July he again reassures Clark again there has been no donation to NZ First. Still not lying (but certainly deceiving) as the donation was to his legal fees.
  23. Around this time Peters and Henry would be terrified that Glenn will eventually speak to a journalist and reveal details of his donation.  The Herald also prints a further leaked letter from Glenn to Peters and they must wonder what else is still to emerge. I have little doubt phone records will show them in constant communication that week. So they decide to pre-empt it by announcing it on 18 July 2008.
  24. That day Peters’ mother dies. I do not think so badly of them that they choose to announce it that day because of her death. I think they had already decided on that day (Peters had been overseas and they wanted to do it when he was back in NZ) and decided to carry on, even after she died. That’s still pretty low though. With the NZF conference starting the next day they needed to get it out of the way.
  25. Peters and Henry had a big big choice ahead of them. Do they reveal that Peters knew of the donation? They could argue that he had never denied a donation to his legal fees. Technically he had never lied until then – only deceived. But Peters would know that having waved that no sign around at the press conference and called on the Herald staff to resign and apologise, he would get somewhat crucified if he revealed he was playing at semantics and he did know of a donation – but it was to his legal fees, not him or his party (as he saw it). Ironically in hindsight that would have been the path of less pain.
  26. So they made a fatal mistake. They told a bare faced lie. They both did. On 18 July 2008 they announced that Brian Henry only informed him of this at 5 pm that day. Peters explictly said that up until then he had been “unaware of the source of any of the donations for legal expenses”. That was the start of the end. Up until then they were only half lies, or deceptions (in politics there is a difference).
  27. They had to ten resort to further lies, to back up the big lie. How did Henry get in touch with Owen Glenn?  On 20 July they claimed a tip off from someone whose name Henry could not recall, but was not Peters or Mike Williams. Another deception which turned into a lie. They probably mean McClay, and he probably was involved at first but as the e-mails and phone calls prove Peters was in the loop the whole time. It was not a case of McClay or Peters knowing – they both did.
  28. Incidentially on 21 July the Vela donations came to light, but that is a story for another day.
  29. Peters lied again on 25 July when he said in a written statement “The Glenn contribution went to my barrister Brian Henry. As soon as I learned of it I informed the Prime Minister and alerted the media.” Once you tell one lie, you have to keep lying.
  30. Peters and Henry both lied again to the Privileges Committee on 19 August 2008, saying again he never knew of the donation. Note neither of them gave testimony under oath, so they can not be done for perjury.
  31. Henry also claimed on 19 August “I phoned Owen Glenn and he forwarded $100,000 which was paid to me on account of my fees”. This has been proven false. Glenn phoned Peters.
  32. Owen Glenn’s letter was published on 26 August 2008, along with one from Peters’ respomding to it. Peters again lies repeating that he had no knowledge of any donation.
  33. On 28 August Helen Clark reveals she knew back in February 2008 of the donation, from Owen Glenn.
  34. On 4 September another Glenn letter is published. He details the phone call and e-mail. Peter Williams tables a statement claiming Brian Henry spoke to Owen Glenn on two occassions.
  35. On 9 September Glenn testifies and provides proof of the phone call from him to Peters and the e-mail seven minutes later from Brian Henry.
  36. On 10 September, Peters testifies again. Peters admits to conversation with Glenn but denies money discussed.
  37. On 16 September Henry testified again. He admits that the client in the e-mail was Peters but still insists somehow Peters never knew of the donation. Phone records also prove Peters called Henry straight after the Glenn phone call.

I am pretty confident that this is close to what happened. It explains everything. Peters at first did not lie but he then realised he had gone too far in playing semantic games with the media to reveal he knew of a donation to his lawyer. So on 18 July he told a lie. And that one lie on 18 July led to dozens and dozens more lies as they tried to concoct a story about how Glenn could have donated without Peters knowing. I suspect they also exchanged conversations with McClay for conversations with Henry.

The moral of the story is the same as for Richard Nixon – it is the cover-up that gets you in the end!

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Winston’s story

September 17th, 2008 at 10:07 am by David Farrar

Poor old Helen. Just like Chris Trotter, she can’t work out what happened. She needs more time.

As a public service to Helen, and all readers, I am summarising Winston’s position below. Winston keeps insisting that he never had any idea at all of the $100,000 donation until 18 July 2008 when Brian Henry told him. So below are all the elements you have to believe, for Winston to be telling the truth.

  1. Laura Ede is lying when she says Peters called Glenn on 5 December 2005.
  2. Laura Ede is also incompetent as she sent Owen Glenn an e-mail asking him to phone Peters back, when Peters never called.
  3. Brian Henry did call Owen Glenn in late November 2005, and Owen Glenn is lying when he says he never spoke to him.
  4. Brian Henry can not prove this call because he was staying in a motel at the time, and he can not remember which one it was.
  5. Brian Henry as a barrister, does not keep receipts of his expenses, as that would tell him which motel he made this disputed call from, and the bill would have details of the calls made.
  6. Owen Glenn is wrong when he says he spoke to Peters after that alleged 5 December call, and they discussed the electoral petition.
  7. Owen Glenn is a liar when he says there is no way he would have ever donated $100,000 to Winston’s legal fees, without the request having come from Winston.
  8. Owen Glenn did call Peters on 14 December 2005, but they never discussed a donation. Owen Glenn is lying when he says beyond doubt they did, and the fact they even discussed it in enough detail that he upped the donation from $70,000 to $100,000.
  9. By pure coincidence Peters called Brian Henry one minute after that phone call, but they never discussed money or the donation.
  10. Also by pure coincidence Brian Henry e-mailed Owen Glenn 40 seconds later his bank account details, as he had his memory jogged about the earlier conversation with Glenn (the one Glenn and Ede deny and Henry can not providence any evidence of).
  11. It is normal when asking for a donation to just send bank account details.
  12. The reference to “Further to the call between you and my client at 1.30 pm” did refer to Winston, after claiming it did not, but no donation was discussed with Winston. Brian Henry mentioned the call by accident, and in reality it had nothing to do with the donation.
  13. Even though Henry now says the reference to “my client” must be Peters, there is still a mystery second client who originally put Henry onto Glenn, and this mystery client will not reveal their identitiy even though doing so would exonerate both Peters and Henry. Their need to remain secret is so powerful that it outweighs the fact he or she could clear Peters and Henry from potential disgrace.
  14. Paul Moroney (brother of Labour MP Sue Moroney) is lying when he did an affidavit witnessing Peters thanking Glenn after Glenn asked if he got the money. Glenn is also lying when he recounted the thank you at Karaka.
  15. Owen Glenn donated $500,000 to Labour, $100,000 to Winston’s legal bills and lent Labour another $100,000, but then turned on them because they did not make him Consul to Monaco and because his lawyer once testified on behalf of Fay Richwhite, his lawyer coached him to perjure himself at the Privileges Committee.
  16. Glenn never ever mentioned to Winston Peters in all their other meetings and conversations that he had donated, as Glenn is of course known as the soul of discretion.
  17. When the media reported Owen Glenn in February 2008 as having donated to another party, Brian Henry never clicked that he was referring to the $100,000 Glenn gave Henry for Peters’ legal fees.
  18. Winston Peters never thought to check with Brian Henry if he had received money from Owen Glenn and that this is what he could be referring to.
  19. Even after the Prime Minister rang him and told him that Owen Glenn said he had donated money, Peters still didn’t think to check with Henry.
  20. Peters also had no curiousity about why Glenn would tell the Prime Minister he had donated money, and never thought to ask Owen Glenn (whose number he had). Despite being genuinely in the dark about the donation, he never thought to check with Glenn.
  21. Brian Henry let Winston go into a press conference and deny that NZ First had received any money at all from Owen Glenn – not even a dollar, and did not feel he had an ethical, moral or professional duty to tell him of the personal donation to Peters’ legal expenses.
  22. Brian Henry was aware the Winston Peters was considering appointing Owen Glenn as Consul to Monaco, and did not think the fact Glenn had donated $100,000 to Peters’ legal expenses was something that should be disclosed.
  23. After the NZ Herald on 12 July printed the e-mail from Owen Glenn, Brian Henry still said nothing to Peters despite it being glaringly obvious what he was referring to.
  24. Winston Peters genuinely believed the e-mail was fake, even though the Prime Minister had told him of her personal conversation with Owen Glenn where Glenn stated he had donated to Winston.
  25. Winston Peters was not denying the e-mail’s accuracy because he knew the donation was to his legal fees, and not NZ First itself. He still at this point in time had absolutely no knowledge of any assistance from Glenn in any form.
  26. Winston Peters never thought of doing the obvious when the e-mail was printed and contact Owen Glenn to ask him if the e-mail was real, and what the hell he was on about?
  27. Winston Peters never wondered why Steve Fisher was so desperate to make sure Owen Glenn did not contradict what Peters said?
  28. Even after Brian Henry saw Winston denying everything, claiming the e-mail is fabricated and calling Audrey Young a liar, he still didn’t think he needed to urgently inform Winston that the e-mail was referring to the $100,000 donation for the Tauranga electoral petition in Peters’ name.
  29. It took Brian Henry seven days to manage to talk to his close personal friend and long standing client, to let him know that he had information which verified the e-mail in the Herald, which is why they waited until 18 July 2008 to announce the existence of the donation.
  30. Winston Peters at no stage ever knew of the donation until 18 July 2008.

This is an update on a earlier list I did on19 July.

And as I pointed out them, to beleive Winston’s story you have to believe not some of the above, but pretty much all of the above.

This is basically the story that the Prime Minister finds so compelling she can not make her mind up whether or not it is true or not.

UPDATE: As the Prime Minister is still striggling with this very difficult decision, she may like to also read John Armstrong’s column.

Just as the Moon is made of cheese and fairies live at the bottom of the garden, Winston Peters’ lawyer, Brian Henry, wants to believe that the now notorious phone call from Owen Glenn to Peters never discussed a donation from the business tycoon to pay the legal bills of Henry’s client.

I think this indicates a degree of scepticism. John is obviously finding it difficult to believe the story above.

However, the rest of us don’t live on Planet Winston where black is white, white is what you want it to be and the story changes as fast as the shop-until-you-drop former Philippines first lady Imelda Marcos changed her shoes.

It’s a funny thing. When you tell the truth there is normally no need to then change your story.

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Winston’s story

September 16th, 2008 at 4:41 pm by David Farrar

This Tremain cartoon, taken from Homepaddock, sums it all up.

The TVNZ midday news saw political reporter Jessica Mutch try to explain what the Peters/Henry story now was, and you could see the palpable disbelief.

Colin Espiner blogs a line he stole from brother Guyon:

My dear brother Guyon has pinched a few lines off me over the years, so I’m going to nick one of his: The only testimony Brian Henry could have delivered before the privileges committee today that was less credible is if Winston Peters’ lawyer had simply said: “My dog ate it.”

Well the dog ate the phone bill from the mystery motel he claims to have ring Owen Glenn from!

New Zealand First insiders and Peters himself had talked tough over Henry’s recall to the committee this morning, claiming to some journalists that the lawyer would provide evidence this morning that refuted Owen Glenn’s version of events. He did nothing of the sort.

Indeed, everything Henry said and offered this morning in the way of evidence simply corroborated Glenn’s version of events.

You have to wonder what sort of morons talk up in advance evidence that actually proves their Leader lied, and corroborates what Owen Glenn said. Either they didn’t know what Brian Henry was going to say (which means they have blind faith) or they didn’t understand how damning it would be for Peters and Henry.

In my opinion, Henry offered doubt today but it was not reasonable.

Indeed. Reasonable doubt means exactly that – is it reasonable. No reasonable person can really doubt that Peters has lied. And as it so happens the Privileges Committee does not even need to satisfy the criminal standard of “beyond reasonable doubt”. They merely need to satisfy “on the balance of probabilities”.

Will this finally be enough for Clark to sack Peters? I doubt it.

I doubt it also. She needs Peters after the election, so that means minor stuff like lying the public, lying to the media, false declarations, and lying to the Privileges Committee are all forgiveable by Clark.

UPDATE: NZPA quotes the Laboru Party MPs trying to defend Winston:

Labour MPs said the way Mr Glenn and Mr Henry referred to each other by first names in emails showed familiarity.

So these MPs have no shame? no standards at all? They are so desperate to protect Winston (and incidentially declare their largest ever donor to be a liar) that their defence is that first names were used in emails.

This is so pitiful, I won’t even bother pointing out the gaping flaws in their argument. I’ll let readers do that for me.

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Henry changes story

September 16th, 2008 at 11:37 am by David Farrar

From Stuff:

Winston Peters has produced a phone record which backs up billionaire Owen Glenn’s timeline of events around a $100,000 donation towards the New Zealand First leader’s legal costs.

His lawyer Brian Henry today conceded to Parliament’s privileges committee the pair’s recollection of events was poor and their earlier story did not now seem correct.

And not just their earlier testimony under oath, but everything they have said is cast into doubt.

The email, produced by Mr Glenn, shows Mr Henry referred to the phone conversation with “my client” at the precise time of the phone call.

Mr Henry has previously denied the “client” was Mr Peters.

But today in a video-linked appearance before the committee Mr Henry changed crucial parts of his story.

He acknowledged that Mr Peters must be the client referred to.

Now remember he denied multiple times Peters was the client. He denied this directly to the Privileges Committee.

Phone records from Mr Peters which he promised the committee last week and which were released today show Mr Peters called him one minute after he finished talking to Mr Glenn.

Mr Henry’s email was sent one minute after his phone call with Mr Peters ended.

The truth comes out. Not that it wasn’t already out for 99% of NZ.

Mr Glenn has said Mr Peters asked for the $100,000 donation in their phone call.

But Mr Henry today gave the committee a different explanation, although he acknowledged he had little recollection of the actual events.

He said he had spoken to Mr Glenn in either late November or early December asking for a donation.

Prove it. Where is the phone log?

He said the phone call from Mr Peters on December 14, which was presumably coincidental, reminded him to follow up with Mr Glenn, which he immediately did.

“That jogged my memory to seek a donation,” he said.

This is just so much bullshit. Their story has changed so many times, to fit the facts, it is just beyond belief.

Now let us make this simple for Helen:

  1. Owen Glenn phoned Winston at 1.27 pm
  2. That call ended at 1.33 pm
  3. Winston phoned Brian Henry at 1.34 pm
  4. That call ended at 1.39 pm
  5. At 1.40 pm Brian Henry sent Owen Glenn the bank account details for the donation

I am sure Helen or Michael Cullen will find a way to put it all down to an innocent explanation.

UPDATE:

NZPA also report:

Mr Glenn has denied having any dealings with Mr Henry, prompting calls for Mr Henry to produce phone records to back up his claim.

But Mr Henry said the call was made around the time of Mr Peters’ Tauranga electoral petition, between November 22 and December 1, 2005, and he was staying in a motel that only kept phone records dating back to 2006.

Well this is very easy to resolve. The motel may not have kept phone records, but Telecom certainly will have. Not that there is any real doubt, but if the Privileges Committee thinks Henry is telling the truth (this time!), then they can easily verify it by asking Telecom (and Telecom cannot refuse) to supply the phone records for those 10 days for the motel. Telecom keep these records for at least seven years.

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Peters safe

September 16th, 2008 at 6:17 am by David Farrar

Helen Clark has made clear she will not be sacking Winston Peters, and in fact will keep him on after the election. The Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister Helen Clark further distanced herself from Mr Peters yesterday, but set a high hurdle for sacking him by saying it would take a “devastating development” at today’s privileges committee hearing for her to act.

Now this is a bizarre hurdle as the only person appearing today is Brian Henry, who will presumably come up with the fifth or sixth version of events about how Winston knew nothing. Only if a witness hostile to Peters was testifying could there be any chance of a devastating development.

The reality is the phone call and e-mail prove beyond reasonable doubt that Peters knew of the donation, and that he was the one referred to by Henry as “my client” as the times match.

Helen Clark has shown herself willing to condone Ministers who lie not once, not twice, but repeatedly to the public. And then she declares the election is about trust!!

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Young and Espiner on Peters

September 11th, 2008 at 9:46 am by David Farrar

Both Audrey Young and Colin Espiner blogged yesterday on Winston Peters. I’ll start with Audrey:

It has become a lot clearer now as to why the Labour spin machine has been in overdrive for months over Owen Glenn’s character – and it has been awful.

Note how Audrey says Labour has been denigrating Glenn, their largest donor, for months.

They were worried about what he would say about them, not just Winston Peters.

And he has said it – that he consulted Mike Williams before ringing Peters on December 14 to agree to give him $100,000 for the Tauranga electoral petition.

And more importantly that he told Helen Clark back in February that he had given Peters $100,000 for Peters’ legal fees. He reiterated that point at a press conference this morning at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland.

And the records back Glenn. He had brunch with Mike Williams and phoned Winston at 11.30 am Sydney time. It would have been mere minutes after Williams had left, if he had left. Glenn says there is no way he would have donated without Labour’s okay, which he got from Mike Williams.

Williams’ reputation has already suffered badly from the Labour Party conference episode – he denied having endorsed the distribution of Government literature when a tape recording proved he had actually said it was “a damned good idea”.

He lied about something he said in front of 500 people, so indeed his denials in this case have to be judged in that context.

Labour has been saying for ages it would be terrific if Owen Glenn appeared in person before the privileges committee because people could assess for themselves his credibility – or lack of it; how easily confused he gets.

Having heard him at privileges, seen him on Campbell Live, heard him being interview by Kathryn Ryan on Nine to Noon and heard parts of the press conference at the Hilton today, it is hard to fault his credibility.

Michael Cullen tripped him up over one of the paragraphs of his testimony – the matter of whether he had called Winston or Winston had called him in early December.

But Glenn has been cogent, coherent, sane, sharp, in command of his senses and memory and very colourful.

Indeed. And he has factual evidence that supports his version of events – a version that has never significantly altered.

It is hard to imagine how Peters and Brian Henry can counter the damning phone records and email testimony.

And they failed to do so yesterday.

If Glenn is telling the truth, then how can Peters and Henry account for the “third person” – the alleged client they told the privileges committee existed.

I would bet money that the alleged third person is Roger McClay, whose taxpayer funded job appeared to be raising money for NZ First and Winston.

And how they account for the press statement issued on July 18 a few hours after Peters’ mother died saying Henry had just told him about the Glenn donation.

I feel sickened at the thought of it.

That’s an honest raw emotion. And it is sickening when you think of it. Owen Glenn has proven beyond reasonable doubt Peters solicited the money and knew of it. So if you believe Owen Glenn (and Peters has failed to cast serious doubt on it), then Peters knew all along, and hence the announcement of his “having just found out from Brian Henry” on 18 July was a deliberate decision to release the information a few hours after the news of his mother’s death filtered out.

I also feel sick even typing the above, but that is the only conclusion one can draw, if you accept Owen Glenn’s version of events. I know that is ultra harsh, but again unless Owen Glenn is a pathological liar, then the decision to release the truth about the donation was deliberately timed.

Colin Espiner looks at Labour’s role:

I thought Clark suffered a rare pasting in Parliament this afternoon, with National leader John Key finally getting on a roll and managing to land a few punches on the Prime Minister: “The reason she has never sacked Winston Peters is  because she is up to her eyeballs in this and what happened yesterday was that the truth jetted into town.”

It was a great line – so good he repeated it at least three more times. It’s a pity National didn’t follow this up with a more sustained assault rather than reverting to business-as-usual questions. But Key was right, however; Clark is up to her neck in this fiasco and it’s plain she’s had enough.

At a minimum Helen Clark knew the truth in February 2008. However she may have known as far back as December 2005. She was never asked in the House yesterday whether or not she had any discussions at all, of any sort, with Mike Williams over Owen Glenn helping out with the Tauranga electoral petition. She was asked some questions on her knowledge, but said (off memory) that she had not had a conversation of that nature – it was a denial of a specific allegation, not a denial of any conversations at all with Williams in 2005 over Glenn.

I reckon if she does sack Peters she will call the election date as well. It would be a good way of brushing the ongoing fiasco off the front pages and cutting Peters and his party loose. Not that she’ll need to do that – NZ First will be furious if she sacks Peters before the privileges committee reports back and its agreement with Labour will be toast.

That won’t bother Clark – the last time she needs NZ First’s votes is later today, when the Emissions Trading Scheme has its third and final reading.

But NZ First will have a point. Clark has long championed Peters’ right to due process and natural justice. Sacking him half-way through the hearing would be a bit like the judge at a murder trial telling the defence that she’s heard enough – just take him out the back and hang him.

But politics doesn’t really operate like a court – even at the privileges committee, supposedly one of the highest courts in the land. Politics is neither as orderly as a court nor as fair.  And it’s becoming obvious that Peters’ right to natural justice exists only as long as it is politically expedient for Clark to allow it.

There’s no question she is running out of time. Peters is an albatross around her neck and if she doesn’t cut the strings soon she will sink along with him.

I hope she delays the decision as long as possible then!

As I blogged yesterday, the key issue is not so much whether Clark sacks Peters, but whether she rules out a post-election deal with NZ First.

John Key has said he will not strike a deal with NZ First, even if it means staying in Opposition rather than becoming Prime Minister. Will Clark rule out a deal if she sacks Peters, but somehow NZ First gets back in?

UPDATE: My wish is granted. Clark is delaying a decision until next week, after Brian Henry’s next appearance.

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Pathetic

September 10th, 2008 at 11:01 pm by David Farrar

I didn’t attend tonight’s hearing as I correctly predicted Peters would bluster, and even at the very end refuse to tell the truth. The universal reaction from those who did attend (and thanks for all the texts and e-mails) who briefed me was that Peters was pathetic, and produced no relevant evidence at all apart from a fanciful story.

Having looked at the video, and read his tabled statements I have to say that a very dim five year old could have managed a better defence.

Essentially Winston argues that yes Owen called him on the 14th of December but they never ever talked about money. And oh yes he probably did phone Brian Henry to say send your contact details to Owen, isn’t sure if he did but if he did that is because Owen asked for them, and he had no idea at all what it was about, and Brian somehow decided to send his bank account details instead.

Clark may wait for the Privileges Committee to formally report, but her language indicates she may move tomorrow.

Stuff reports:

“I believe now that Mr Henry had called him on December 5 to solicit the funds and I believe Mr Glenn is aware of this which is why no evidence has been produced.

Yet no record of such a call has been tabled by Mr Henry. They have had several weeks to furnish any proof of Brian Henry having ever phoned Owen Glenn. They have produced none.

Responding to questions from Napier Labour list MP Russell Fairbrother Mr Peters said he had no knowledge of Mr Glenn having donated money to NZ First until July 18, 2008.

“I thought at the time why would Mr Glenn be giving money to me? Mr Glenn is a Labour man. Why would he be giving money to NZ First?” Mr Peters asked.

Now recall that after he met with Owen Glenn in Sydney, his parliamentary staffer, Roger McClay, wrote to or e-mailed Owen Glenn asking for a donation to NZ First. So this mock surprise, is of course mock.

The NZ Herald reports:

Mr Peters again denied any prior knowledge of a $100,000 donation to NZ First or to himself from Monaco-based billionaire Owen Glenn.

And he maintained the allegations were a conspiracy against him.

Owen Glenn’s lawyer yesterday represented Fay Richwhite 15 years or so ago at the Winebox hearings. So obviously it is all a conspiracy sting operation masterminded by the lawyer and Sir Michael Fay.

“This is an attempt to undo the people’s will, bring down a government and govern alone,” said Mr Peters.

Hmmn, so National arranged three years ago for the donation to Winston, hoping he would be stupid enough to lie about it, so they could use it to undermine the Government. My God, how cunning.

Mr Peters said Mr Glenn also made mention he had a horse running in the Melbourne Cup and may have asked for lawyer Mr Henry’s contact details.

So Peters says he asked for Brian Henry’s contact details, he then immediately told Brian of this request, and Brian e-mailed Owen Glenn, and instead of sending his contact details, he accidentally sent his bank account details!

Anyway for those who want a laugh, here are the three documents tabled by Peters.

  1. winston-peters-statement
  2. brian-henry-letter
  3. memo-to-peters-re-2006-meeting-with-glenn
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The “someone stole Winston’s cellphone” suggestion

September 10th, 2008 at 6:33 am by David Farrar

Reading the NZ Herald this morning, it strikes me how ludicrous Labour’s attempted defence of Winston was:

Yesterday Labour MP Russell Fairbrother, a member of the committee, suggested Mr Glenn may have confused Winston Peters’ with his youngest brother Wayne in a vital phone call about the donation.

Wayne Peters laughed out loud when told of the suggestion.

Wayne Peters had the right reaction. Poor Owen – first Labour MPs suggest he can’t tell Winston apart from Sir Howard Morrison, and then they suggest he can’t tell Winston apart from Wayne Peters on the phone.

Mr Fairbrother said he had no evidence to believe it was Wayne Peters, but had asked Mr Glenn “to test his evidence”.

Of course he had no evidence. It was a desperate attempt to find a way to clear Peters. This was not an off the cuff comment made once. Glenn was asked at length by Fairbrother and Cullen about whether Peters identified himself, what did Glenn mean by a first person conversation etc etc.

After the breakfast he called Mr Peters on his cellphone – he produced the phone record yesterday – to say yes to the donation and spoke to him for more than six minutes. The call finished about 1.32 NZ time.

About eight minutes later, Mr Glenn received an email from Mr Henry saying “further to your discussion with my client at 1.30 NZ time I provide my bank details … “

Tonight Winston will explain how one of his staff members answered his mobile phone for him, impersonated Winston, negotiated the donation upwards from $70,000 to $100,000, immediately phoned or e-mailed Brian Henry to tell him about the donation, and then totally forgot to mention it to Winston.

Mr Glenn’s evidence about consulting Mr Williams contradicts Mr Williams’ claim that the first he knew of a donation was on July 12 – when the Herald published emails from Mr Glenn to PR man Steve Fisher confirming he had given a donation.

It is now apparent that Mike WIlliams, and in all probability Helen Clark, not just knew about the donation in 2005, but actually approved it. Owen Glenn was adamant on this point that he would not have donated without Labour’s okay.

This makes you wonder about who in Labour authorised the $250,000 offer to the Maori Party, in exchange for them agreeing to support Labour?

Mr Williams said last night his recollection was that they had discussed the likely outcome of Mr Peters’ electoral petition.

“I have no recollection of being asked or offering any comment on whether or not Mr Glenn should provide financial assistance to Mr Peters and I certainly did not discuss that possibility with anyone else.”

If people are having trouble working out who to believe, I suggest they re-read this post and this post regarding his performance on Agenda this year. Nine lies confusions in one interview. Plus the confusion he had over whether Owen Glenn had donated to the party since 2005. And the confusion last election over the pledge card when they told the Chief Electoral Office they would include it as an election expense and then recanted.

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The short version

September 9th, 2008 at 8:50 pm by David Farrar

What happened today is very simple.

  1. Owen Glenn proved that he made a phone call to Winston Peters at 1.26 pm NZST on 14 December 2005. The call ended at 1.33 pm.
  2. At 1.40 pm on the same day – just seven minutes later – Brian Henry sent Owen Glenn the details of the bank account the $100,000 was paid into.
  3. A Paul Moroney swore an affidavit that Winston Peters and Owen Glenn did meet at Karaka in January 2006, that Owen Glenn told him of the donation to Peters, and that Peters thanked Owen Glenn for his help. Incidentially Paul Moroney is the brother of Labour MP Sue Moroney.

Anyone who thinks that somehow Winston Peters was not aware of the donation is not just naive or misguided, but fundamentally dishonest. The attempts by Labour to suggest that someone else may have answered Winston’s mobile phone, pretended to be Winston, arranged the $100,000 donation, passed the details onto Brian Henry – all without telling Winston – are so far fetched that journalists were having trouble not laughing out loud.

The big new information that got revealed is that Owen Glenn met with Mike Williams the day of the donation, sought his approval for the donation and is adamant he would not have made the donation without permission from Williams. It is almost inconceivable that Williams would not discuss such an issue with Helen Clark. We already knew she knew about the donation in February 2008 – she may in fact have known as early as December 2005. It will be impossible to prove what Williams told Clark, but regardless we do know that Mike Williams knew all about this from day one.

Whale Oil has the affidavits online.

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The second Glenn letter

September 4th, 2008 at 1:06 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has a copy of the second Glenn letter as a pdf. Helen is busy working on a defence for Winston for it.

Some key extracts:

I gave the authority for the payment instructions to be made on 20 December 2005 to Mr BP Henry’s account. Mr Henry supplied the ASB bank account details in an email from him addressed to me on Wednesday 14 December 2005. That email from Mr Henry refers to an earlier telephone conversation between me and a person Mr Henry refers to as “my client” that same day.

Watch Henry and Peters claim it was some otehr client, whom they can’t name.

My recollection is that I was called by Mr Peters to seek financial assistance for his electoral petition challenge. I agreed to that request because I understood that it would be of assistance to the Labour party, which had the confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First at the time we spoke. I do not recall that I had any conversation with Mr Henry about my donation. There is absolutely no doubt that the request came to me from Mr Peters, I would not have made the donation on any other basis through any intermediary. I did not do so.

Can’t get more firm than that.

I was not at the Karaka sales in early 2007, I was at the sales in early 2006. I believe that the statement I made to you in my letter of 19 August is factually accurate.

So it is Peters, not Glenn, wrong on the details.

Unless Owen Glenn is a pathological liar, Winston Peters has lied repeatedly to the public, the media, and well everyone. There is no “innocent explanation” as Clark desperately suggests.

This also raises some questions regarding Mr Henry’s conduct. I won’t say more than that at this stage.

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More details likely from Glenn

September 3rd, 2008 at 7:23 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports that more details tomorrow are likely from Owen Glenn. Good.

Apart from the motivation issue (Glenn has no motivation to lie, while Peters/Henry have plenty) of who is telling the truth, there is also the timing issue. Glenn has not just suddenly stated that Peters solicited the money. He told the PM this back in February. Peters denied it, and denied a donation, and the donation was later established to be correct.

The fact of the donation has been established. Owen Glenn has stated Peters solicted it, and thanked him for it. And it is almost beyond belief that you would donate $100,000 to help someone and not tell them about it. Especially if you are Owen Glenn!

Now Peters and Henry have their story that Winston knew nothing (despite even Helen telling him about it) and that Henry heard from someone else to contact Glenn. Well Henry now has to substantiate his version of events. Was that “other person” Roger McClay or a member of Winston’s staff? If so, guess who told them about it! Does he have a copy of phone records or e-mails to show he contacted Glenn and solicited the money himself? Or will the e-mail just show he sent through bank account details?

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Taxpayer paid for Winston’s winebox costs

August 29th, 2008 at 7:09 am by David Farrar

Another Phil Kitchin story in the Dom Post:

Remember this exchange in May:

Mr Peters answered questions in Parliament on May 10, 2006, about Winebox legal fees.

National MP Tau Henare, a former NZ First MP and caucus colleague of Mr Peters, asked the NZ First leader: “Who paid the legal fees for the Winebox?”

Mr Peters replied: “Who paid for the Winebox inquiry? Yours truly … I would never have thought Tau Henare would have the temerity to raise that question. Shame on the member. I had to carry the whole can by myself.”

Sounds very clear. Peters carried the whole can by himself. Except …

However, four bills obtained by The Dominion Post, all dated June 2, 1995, and from Mr Henry to former NZ First staff member Terry Heffernan, suggest Mr Peters appears to have misled Parliament. The bills total nearly $24,000 and were coded as being paid by Parliamentary Service.

Misleading Parliament is very serious. That should send him to the Privileges Committee. Oh wait, he is already there!

But who else may have been economical with their answers?

Mr Henry told the committee last week that he eventually received legal aid for his Winebox legal advice under an arrangement with the solicitor-general.

But till he received that legal aid, Mr Henry said his fees were either paid by Mr Peters or through fundraising he did himself.

Whoops.

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Yes yes yes yes yes!!

August 27th, 2008 at 11:10 am by David Farrar

Owen Glenn has told the truth in his letter to the Privileges Committee.

Mr Peters sought help from me for this purpose in a personal conversation, some time after I had first met him in Sydney.

Bang.

I agreed to help in the belief that this step would also assist the Labour Party, in its relationship with Mr Peters. I supported the Labour Party.

Of course having Labour’s major donor fund Winston, helps Labour. This might explain why Labour has been trying so hard to not have the facts come out.

There is a wider issue I will return to about the propeity of Labour’s major donor also donating to Winston’s legal expenses and allegedly attempted to the Maori Party, and the pressure it can put on them to keep Labour in office.

I understand that Mr Henry is Mr Peters’ lawyer. I do not know Mr Henry. I do not believe that we have met. I do not recall that I, or my assistants, had any discussion or communication with Mr Henry other than to receive remittance details.

If Glenn is correct, this means Henry has not told the truth in saying he contacted Owen Glenn and solicted the donation himself.

Mr Peters subsequently met me socially at the Karaka yearling sales, I believe in early 2006. He thanked me for my assistance.

This has Peters dead to rights.

One has to remember that Winston has not just told a minor fib to get out of a situation.  He (if you beleive Glenn) has lied massively and repeatedly to everyone. He feigned outrage at his press conference. He held up the no sign. He demanded Tim Murphy and Audrey Young be sacked for exposing the truth. He defamed them by suggesting they fabricated the e-mail.

I’ll be writing a lot more on this, but for now I just want to say thank God Owen Glenn told the truth, when there would have been huge pressure on him to be evasive or even deceptive. For that alone, he should be made Consul to Monaco :-)

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Another secret trust fund!

August 24th, 2008 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

Tim Selwyn will need to update his diagram, as the Herald on Sunday has unearthed another secret trust fund for NZ First.

The documents firstly confirm the existence of the Winston Peters Fighting Fund Trust.

This was established in February 1993 specifically to pay legal costs associated with Peters’ legal battles – such as the high-profile defamation action taken against him by businessman Selwyn Cushing.

This trust, of which Peters is listed in the documents as one of three trustees, is separate to the secretive Spencer Trust, which Peters has said he had no knowledge of.

The story has more information about the bills that were sent to the trust for paying.

So in the last few months we have now learnt of the following ways big business funds NZ First and Winston Peters:

  1. Directly to NZ First by breaking up their large donations into smaller ones through using different company accounts
  2. Through Brian Henry by donating money to Brian Henry who then doesn’t charge Peters
  3. Through the Spencer Trust, which Peters’ staff solicit money for
  4. Through the Winston Peters Fighting Fund Trust

How many more funding routes are there to be discovered?

The Privileges Committee should be very interested in this latest trust. Based on its name, it would appear that Peters has a beneficial interest in the Trust. Does it still exist? If so, it should have been declared on the Register of MPs Pecuniary interests if Peters is a beneficiary of it.

If it no longer exists, when did it get wound up? Was it just before the Register was established?

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All about Winston

August 23rd, 2008 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

So many articles, so where to start. First is the Herald editorial on racing:

When Winston Peters was appointed Racing Minister in 2005, he was warmly welcomed by leaders of the industry. “He’s going to be good for racing,” said high-profile breeder Sir Patrick Hogan. Even he, however, may not have realised the degree of beneficence.

To the contrary it is possible the degree of beneficence was precisely known!

Then we have Fran O’Sullivan who calls Peters a coward basically:

If Winston Peters was man enough he would apologise to leading New Zealand political journalists for the outrageous way he attacked them for questioning whether Labour’s major donor Owen Glenn had contributed anonymous funds to New Zealand First.

New Zealand now knows the vile allegations and innuendo that Peters accused journalists of spreading early this year were not that far off the mark. But Peters’ continuing reliance on bravado and counter-punches instead of confronting the real issues means his political reputation is punctured.

Peters actually suggested the NZ Herald had fabricated the e-mail from Owen Glenn.

It’s abundantly clear that Peters’ political interests and those of his party have been served by plenty of cash from wealthy donors, contrary to the public picture he has painted.

The claims he made early this year that New Zealand First had had no big-business backing since its inception have been exposed as fatuous.

Indeed, it is quite possible the NZ First receives a greater proportion of its income from big business than any other party, if you include the Spencer Trust and Brian Henry in the mix.

The cost of the Selwyn Cushing lawsuit has been estimated to be $445,000. Where did the money for that come from?

But unfortunately the Peters donations furore does obscure the real scandal the NZ First leader continues to duck. The party’s refusal to send a cheque to the Crown for the $158,000 in unlawful spending at the 2005 election is breathtakingly cynical.

Doling out this money – which rightfully belongs in taxpayer’s coffers – to a swag of unnamed charities doesn’t cut it for a politician who made his name on challenging commercial malfeasance. He should not be let off the hook.

Indeed. And now John Armstrong:

He answered questions with questions. He deemed questions which he considered outside the committee’s terms of reference to be irrelevant and therefore not to be answered.

It was less the Spanish Inquisition and more like A Game of Two Halves.

As always, everyone else made allowance for Peters’ verbal pugilism – just as the teams on the television sports quiz tolerate Matthew Ridge’s exhibitionism. MPs are so accustomed to Peters’ stroppiness that no one on the committee would have found his behaviour out of the ordinary.

Yet any member of the public delivering the string of insults to committee members which Peters did would have been called to order.

Peters claims of a Spanish inquisition just shows how unused he is to the idea of accountability. He has for 15 years run his party without question. He has secret trust funds which his staff solicit money for, and his party president and deputy leader know nothing about.

He was not bound by the normal laws of politics. He freely broke them without penalty. That has changed – dramatically so in the last month as NZ First has been found to be as solicitous of donations from the wealthy as other parties that it so long accused of being venal and corrupt.

If Peters tries to take the moral high ground again, then laughter is the only appropriate response.

The Dim-Post also sums things up well:

What is interesting about this arrangement is that Brian Henry is a scion of the famous Henry family who, along with the Fletcher’s and the Todd’s, were one of the wealthiest and most influential industrial dynasty’s in New Zealand history. Wikipedia has an extensive entry on the family.

So this is yet another case of Peter’s benefiting from the largese of the super-rich, a group he still claims to be waging a one man war against. There’s no way of knowing the value of Mr Henry’s legal services to Peters over the years but it seems reasonable to assume the amount runs to many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Winston Peter’s claims to have been the prey of a conspiracy of secretive, elite businessmen but with the New Zealand First leader recieving clandestine donations from Owen Glenn, the Vela family and Sir Robert Jones and free legal services from an industralist heir it looks more and more as if Mr Peters is a member of a covert super-rich conspiracy rather than a victim.

What more can one say?

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Glenn to co-operate

August 21st, 2008 at 8:08 am by David Farrar

Very pleasing to read in the Dominion Post that Owen Glenn has said he will co-operate with both the Privileges Committee and any SFO investigation:

Mr Glenn last night revealed that he had already provided written statements to both the SFO and parliamentary privileges committee, which is conducting an inquiry into whether Mr Peters breached Parliament’s rules by failing to disclose the donation.

Mr Glenn would “cooperate with each body, as may be necessary”, a statement from his office said.

Good to see him doing the right thing.

But in a new development on Monday, Mr Henry disclosed that he personally footed the bill for $40,000 in costs awarded against Mr Peters after the electoral petition failed – which might also be considered a gift that should have been disclosed.

In a twist yesterday, however, Mr Peters said Mr Henry had now had a chance to check his records – and discovered that he had since been reimbursed by Mr Peters.

It would be useful for a copy of those records to be given to the Privileges Committee. If it was all reimbursed within the same year, then indeed there may not be a debt paid off on Peters’ behalf. If it was not all reimbursed within the year, then there may be issues.

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Media on Henry and Peters

August 20th, 2008 at 6:17 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

The immediate past president of the Bar Association, Jim Farmer, QC, says the Law Society could be interested in the way Mr Henry is paid. …

Mr Henry told the committee that none of Mr Glenn’s $100,000 was used to pay for the $40,000 paid to Mr Clarkson’s solicitor for the costs settlement in March 2006.

How can he know this? If $100,000 from Glenn went into Henry’s bank account and he paid $40,000 to Clarkson from the same account, then it is all mixed in together. Possibly the $100,000 went into his business account and he paid the $40,000 from his personal account – in which case that conclusion would be more warranted. This would be the correct way of doing it, as the $40,000 Henry paid is not a tax deductible expense. It was not a debt he owed, so he should have paid it out of his after tax income, not his pre-tax income.

And while they are not issues for the Privileges Committee, I have received expert advice that the $40,000 payment was a gift to Peters and should have had gift duty paid on it by Henry. If Henry failed to pay gift duty on it, then Peters is liable for the gift duty.

Dr Norman raised the question of the $40,000 costs and said yesterday he had received a tip-off that it could be an interesting line of questioning. He said the $40,000 payment was more clear-cut than the Owen Glenn donation. “It’s absolutely black and white.”

Mr Peters had a personal debt and Mr Henry paid for it, he said.

“If you have got a debt and someone pays it for you then you should declare that someone had paid it, even if you don’t know who did.

Russel Norman is quite correct that the $40,000 is black and white compared to the other issues.

“There is just some pool in which debits and credits seems to float. It’s incredible – in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars both ways – and it is very hard to prove anything.”

One question is why is it done in this way? Why not set up a legal trust with some trustees to fundraise for the legal bills? Have WInston declare his beneficial interest in the trust. That is how Nick Smith did it, and would seem to be a far more appropriate way to do it.

Dr Farmer described the relationship as “extremely unorthodox”.

Being paid by some third party [Owen Glenn] and the client not knowing was unheard of, he said.

So was the personal payment of $40,000 by Mr Henry.

“I think it might be of concern to the Law Society,” Mr Farmer said.

“Is it right for a barrister to receive $100,000 from a third party where there has never been a fee note rendered to the solicitor instructing him? I would have thought the Law Society would have real concerns about that.”

The president of the Auckland District Law Society, Keith Berman, said it was also very unusual.

“The issue which is uncertain is whether Brian is handling money on behalf of a client or just receiving money in payment of a bill. But as I understand it, he doesn’t issue a bill.”

Interesting issues indeed.

Tracy Watkins writes in the Dom Post:

But Mr Henry’s disclosure that he personally paid the $40,000 in court-ordered legal costs against Mr Peters means it could be considered a gift.

Mr Peters and Mr Henry were at odds over who made the payment, with Mr Peters suggesting he had paid it himself.

How can you not know whether or not you paid $40,000 to Bob Clarkson? If it was $400 maybe, but $40,000?

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More on Peters and Henry

August 19th, 2008 at 3:12 pm by David Farrar

Observers at the Committee were unanimous that Brian Henry performed very well. They also signalled out Russel Norman for praise, saying he asked the key question on the Clarkson costs. And despite what some feared, National MPs were not shy in putting questions to Peters and Henry – especially Brownlee and Mapp. Labour MPs I am told either said nothing or asked patsy questions.

A few more thoughts:

  1. It would be an incredibly bad look for Owen Glenn to refuse to take part by video-conference, considering he was honoured by the NZ Government, has a business school building named after him, and is so attached to NZ he wants to be our Consul to Monaco. Any refusal to testify will imply cover-up and guilt by Glenn – even if he has done nothing wrong himself (which I think is the case).
  2. There is little doubt Henry paying a $40,000 debt to Bob Clarkson on behalf of Winston Peters is payment of a debt which should have been disclosed. Ignorance of your own chequebook is no defence.
  3. Other payments by Henry on behalf of Peters may count as a gift or payment of a debt? It is one thing not to charge for your time, but who paid the court filing fees in the defamation case? These fees can come to many thousands of dollars.
  4. Could Brian Henry have paid off the $40,000 debt to Bob Clarkson without Owen Glenn’s donation? It is one thing not to charge for your time, but quite another to pay actual costs. If the Glenn donation preceded the payment to Clarkson (and I understand it did) then Glenn is still the person who effectively paid off that bill. Not necessarily from a legal aspect, but in a practical sense. If someone gives me $100,000 and I use $40,000 of it to pay off my mate’s debt, then that debt relief came about because of the donation.
  5. Does Henry paying the $40,000 debt to Clarkson constitute a gift to Peters on which gift duty should be paid?
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