The Crown has begun its case against two people connected with New Zealand First accused of electoral fraud.
Forty donors sent around $750,000 to a private company and a trust, but prosecutors claim that two defendants used what’s being described as a “fraudulent device, trick or stratagem” so as not to pass donations on to the party.
A key issue is the donations were not disclosed in the annual donations return by the party.
“Instead, they ran a scheme which kept the party secretary and the board of New Zealand First and by extension the Electoral Commission and the public very much in the dark about the extent of donations made to the party,” said prosecutor Paul Wicks QC.
They’re accused of putting money into the bank account of a business they hoped to use to create a database of donors, called Nation Builder.
I previously thought the money had just gone into the NZ First Foundation, but this sounds like some money went directly into this company. Questions I would have is who owned and who were the directors of this company?
Radio NZ further report:
In opening remarks today, one of their lawyers Tudor Clee said the Serious Fraud Office had no evidence of any crime.
“There was never an instruction from the party to deal with the funds that was not followed. Crime is not about speculation of what if. Crime is only about what actually happened.”
Clee said no one was deceived, including the New Zealand First Party.
This is also interesting. Who was giving these instructions? It presumably wasn’t the Party President or Secretary who say they knew nothing about the Foundation.
Note that this is an ongoing trial, so no assumptions should be made or stated about guilt or otherwise of those charged.