Winston's Bogus Offer

Winston Peters‘ offer to let media see his party’s audited accounts and bank statements was bogus from the start.

As the Institute for Chartered Accounts said in its submission on the Electoral Finance Act

* “Auditors provide an opinion on the expenses and income included in a return. But it is usually not possible for an auditor to come to an opinion on what may have been excluded, either in error or deliberately.”
* “In the case of electoral returns there are usually no procedures available to an auditor to detect income and expenses deliberately excluded.”
* “There are electoral expenses where it may prove difficult or impossible for the auditor to conclude upon the correctness of the amount included.”

The Institute went public yesterday on NewstalkZB to repeat these points – that releasing his audited accounts wouldn’t tell the media anything. And bank statements, with old-fashioned cheques, don’t tell you who made each deposit – just the date and amount.

Winston knows all this. That’s why he made his bogus offer.

And the Herald knows it. That’s why they turned the bogus offer down.

But it gets worse. Whaleoil knows of at least one other major media organisation that has tried to take Winston Peters up on his offer, by asking New Zealand First for the party’s audited accounts and bank statements. New Zealand First turned them down!

In any case, the issue is not about what money flowed into New Zealand First’s official bank accounts. It is secret money that never went into the formal accounts that is the issue.

In 1993, Mike Moore kept his campaign finance separate from the Labour Party by setting up the Mike Moore Supporters Club (MMSC). It published his books and ran his campaign, and meant he had control over Labour’s ’93 campaign rather than Helen Clark and the Sisterhood.

That wasn’t a problem – Moore was honest about what he was doing. Everyone knew about the MMSC.

What is likely in the New Zealand First case is that Winston Peters has some sort of Winston Peters Supporters Club (WPSC) into which people like Owen Glenn pay money that never goes into the party’s official accounts. Perhaps it is controlled by Peters’ friend Tommy Gear, now under police investigation. The difference is that, unlike the MMSC, the WPSC, if it exists, is secret.

That’s the sort of thing that M-M-M-M-Matt McCarten alleged on TV3’s Political Allstars this morning. An arrangement like the one McCarten alleges could be the reason New Zealand First has not disclosed any donations – anonymous of otherwise – above $10,000 since 2004. The big donations are going elsewhere.

This is why journalists are asking the wrong questions, as M-M-Matt said. The Herald reports this morning that “asked by a Herald reporter on Monday if [New Zealand First] could have received an anonymous donation from Mr Glenn through a trust, Mr Peters said no.”

So what? No one thinks New Zealand First received the money through a trust – if it had come to the party through a trust, the donation from the trust would have had to be declared, and it hasn’t been.

On Saturday, the Herald broke the biggest political funding scandal in New Zealand’s history. Peters is fighting back? Do the MSM have the brains and the balls to take him on and get to the bottom of it?

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