Winston Peters had dozed off during the meeting in 2001. He was woken by his advisor who handed him a $5000 cheque from fishing magnate Neil Penwarden and a report alleging corruption in the scampi quota system.
After taking both, he left.
This set the stage for the so-called “Scampi Inquiry”, which started after Peters alleged corruption in the industry during a speech inside the house, as outlined in Penwarden’s report, then failed to deliver any evidence after it began.
So Winston took $5,000 from a donor who wanted an inquiry into the scampi quota system, and Winston then demanded said inquiry.
Consider that one fact alone, and then repeat after me 100 times “This Government is not corrupt” until you believe it.
Peters was asked direct questions by Stuff about this incident. His response was to call it “farcical”, belittling the sources contacted individually. Penwarden was able to recall the details. So too was his advisor Ross Meurant who helped broker such meetings.
There were three people in the meeting and two of them confirm it while Winston denies it.
Peters started strong and made a rousing speech alleging corruption in the fishing industry. On April 24, 2002 Peters claimed to have “voluminous evidence” to back up his claims, but when the inquiry started he provided no evidence.
Who needs evidence!
The major scampi player, Simunovich Fisheries, was demanding an apology from Peters behind the scenes. “I suggested he give them one,” Meurant says. ” Peters was ropeable when it became public.”
When the inquiry began Peters moved from prosecutor to defender and needed to save face by targeting hoki.
Meurant prepared Peters a report, he called the ‘Exocet’ after a French anti-naval missile.
“This [Exocet] was a deliberate attempt to take the heat away,” he said.
“He was under pressure from the media saying, ‘You’ve been bought off’.”
Peters presented findings in the Exocet on May 7, 2003 but Penwarden simply called it a “smokescreen”.
Chair of the Scampi Inquiry, David Carter, labelled Peter’s presentation as “incoherent gibberish”.
So Peters demanded an inquiry as one donor wanted, and then once he got one he then said there was nothing here to see, presumably due to other donors?
Penwarden never gave any more money to NZ First or to Peters. He says he had learned his lesson. Likewise, other donors to the NZ First Foundation shared this sentiment. Some even asked for the money back.
“The point is: we learned a lot of Winston Peters and over time standing back and observing his behaviour we were not persuaded in any way about his credibility, honesty and decency and suitability to be involved in politics,” Penwarden says.
Wise words indeed.