Winston in Las Vegas

The Herald on Sunday reports on questions around a trip to by our Foreign Minister.

Act leader Rodney Hide has raised what he says are “serious questions” over the trip in May last year, claiming several “very credible” sources had told him that Peters’ airfares, accommodation and tickets to the Oscar de la Hoya-Floyd Mayweather fight were paid for by wealthy businessman .

But Peters said yesterday that Hide’s claims were a “pile of crap” and challenged him to put up, or shut up. Peters had been in Europe on official Foreign Affairs business at the time and made a private trip from Berlin to Las Vegas to attend the title fight before heading on to Singapore.

Peters says he paid for his airfares and accommodation in Las Vegas and later reimbursed “an acquaintance” who had supplied him with the boxing tickets.

A one-way flight from Berlin to Las Vegas costs about $3500 and fight tickets can vary from anything between $100 and $2500. Laws state MPs should declare all gifts and donations over the value of $500.

Peters can clear all this up by showing receipts for the flights and details of the claimed reimbursement for the boxing tickets.

I don’t know anything about these allegations first hand, but what I have heard suggests the reimbursements only occurred a year later once questions were asked. There has also been some suggestion that the airfares may not have been directly paid for by the Minister and again only reimbursed a year or so later. But this may be quite wrong. This is why this can all be solved by showing receipts for the reimbursements.

If the reimbursements did occur after 31 January 2008, then the 2007 Register of Pecuniary Interests may be incorrect.

I am sure the Prime Minister is concerned about ensuring the Cabinet Manual has been complied with, and will ask someone to verify everything is in order.

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