Very interesting to look closely at the words in the media from Brian Henry and Mike Williams this morning. In the Herald:
Winston Peters’ lawyer says a tip-off led him to approach billionaire Owen Glenn for a large donation to the NZ First leader’s legal bills.
Now this tip-off could have been from Winston or from Mike Williams. Also of note if Henry says he solicted the donation while Winston Peters in his February perss conference said that they never approached or asked anyone for money. Of course what Winston meant was they never solicit donations to NZ First but they go hell for leather for personal donations to his legal fund.
Brian Henry said last night he asked the Monaco-based businessman for help after another donor did not deliver.
How many secret donors have there been?
“We made it well known around friendly political circles – or I did – that I was looking for a donor.”
Doesn’t that sounds like a perfect description of Mike Williams?
Mr Henry said he could not recall who had advised him to contact Mr Glenn when the original funder of the legal action fell through, but it was not Mr Peters.
Nor was it Mike Williams, the president of the Labour Party which has also received Glenn donations.
“I can’t off the top of my head remember who it was who told me to call him.”
Oh of course. You can not remember who told you to go hit Owen Glenn up for $100,000 but you can recall it wasn’t Winston or Mike Williams.
Mr Henry said no fund or account for Mr Peters’ legal bills existed.
“The position is that the money is used to pay an existing bill, full-stop.
There is no fund. There is no cash sitting in a balance anywhere. There are bills to be paid.”
Now this is fascinating. Because paying off a bill on behalf of Winston Peters is effectively a donation to him, and there are definite tax implications for that. More on that later.
But let us turn back to the requirements of the Register of Pecuniary Interests:
a description of all debts of more than $500 that were owing by the member that were discharged or paid (in whole or in part) by any other person and the names of each of those persons,
So Brian Henry has just confirmed the Register is incorrect for Winston Peters. And Winston would have been well aware that his legal bills had just dropped by $100,000. Plus it is possible he gets Brian Henry to file his annual return, so any excuses for an incorrect return are shot.
Mr Henry would not discuss why he had not alerted Mr Peters about the donation in February, when Mr Peters denied Mr Glenn had made a donation.
It was of course logical and sensible to let your close friend and client remain in the dark.
Asked about pecuniary gain, Mr Peters told NZPA he did not believe he had benefited personally from the arrangement whereby his legal bills were paid by anonymous donors and he paid the shortfall.
Mr Henry concurred last night.
“There is nothing I am aware of where someone contributing towards a bill you have incurred needs to be declared.”
These men are lawyers? They have to be kidding. They think paying a bill on behalf of someone is not beneficial. Hey let’s pay off Winston’s mortgage for him – that doesn’t count also.
What they say also is directly contradicted by Standing Orders and the Register of Pecuniary Interests.
Henry’s insistence that paying off Winston’s bill isn’t a donation to Winston strongly suggests he did not pay tax on that donation. I suggest a question the nice Peter Dunne, Minister of Revenue would be in order:
“To the Minister of Revenue: What is the position of the Inland Revenue Department as to liable tax if an individual has another individual pay $100,000 debt on their behalf”
Also yet to be resolved is if that $100,000 donation was in any way linked to the large closer to $100,000 than $10,000 sum which appeared in the NZ First bank account in December 2007?