Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, April 11th, 2013 - 76 comments
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I have been doing some digging to try to find answers to some questions raised by John Key’s role in the appointment of Ian Fletcher as chief of the GCSB.
Why did Key try to cover up the fact that he had intervened in the appointment process?
Why is he vague about when and where he had met up with Fletcher since their school days?
Why was Fletcher, lacking the usual military/intelligence background, appointed to the GCSB as a “change manager”?
The evidence indicates that Key was interested in Fletcher’s background in intellectual property, and international trade and economics.
Any more recent suggestions that Key wanted Fletcher to give the GCSB a “shake up” are not supported as Key seems to have only recently been aware of illegal operations at the GCSB. Further more, Key’s lax oversight of the GCSB indicates that he was not concerned about disorganisation or disarray at the department. (See also Selwyn Manning on the GCSB problems and the Kitteridge Report)
Fletcher’s management of his department in Queensland has come in for some criticism (as in my post last week), indicating that he was not appointed for having exceptionally good managerial skills. The evidence seems to confirm Trotter’s claim that it is Fletcher’s background in intellectual copyright and commercial information that Key was most interested in. John Key’s announcement of Fletcher’s appointment in 2011 do not mention his generic change management skills. Key focuses on Fletcher’s expertise in international trade and commerce, explicitly mentioning his background in intellectual property. Key then summarises Fletcher’s expertise:
“Mr Fletcher has extensive policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters. ….” says Mr Key.
An interview of Fletcher conducted for his alumni at the INSEAD: “The Business School For the World” (a kind of post grad school for experienced high flying business execs, where Fletcher did a course in 2005) provides some confirmation of Fletcher’s relevant experience in the operational and management of intellectual property and copyright piracy. In the interview, Fletcher stress the growing importance intellectual property in relation to business in a globalised world. He cites an example of a case in which his team worked closely with the police and local authories:
INSEAD: Have you encountered many counterfeit or piracy cases?
IF: Yes, we actually have an enforcement team in our office which includes a police officer. This team coordinates police work and works with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and with local authorities. One case that highlights their work involved a famous singer whose name I cannot mention for confidentiality reasons. Just before the singer was about to release a new recording, a physical copy was stolen. Due to the enforcement team’s diligent work, we found out where the recording was being kept whilst the thief was intending to sell it on the internet. The police officer in our enforcement team drove half-way across the country to recover the recording before it was sold and arrested the thief. We believe that the singer in question was saved from a substantial financial loss.
INSEAD: Are there standard IP regulations/procedures that exist on a global level?
IF: … The creation of an efficient global system for patent and trade mark protection, and improving the copyright system is a major challenge as ideas move very quickly in a globalised world. IP rights are territorial and can be extremely long to administer. One of the roles of the WIPO is to establish a forum for the development of new global intellectual property rules to comprehensively address the challenges of globalisation.
I have not been able to establish when Key (and/or Iain Rennie) became aware of Fletcher’s interest in this area. Key and Fletcher were working in London at the same time (Key for Merrill Lynch 1995-2001: Fletcher for various organisations). By the end of 2001, Key had decided to return to NZ, and he was the successful candidate for Helensville in 2002.
When Grant Robertson recently asked in the House (of parliament) whether Key met with Fletcher while in London, Key’s answer was, not unusual for him, was vague and, suspiciously, immediately followed by a deflection (Question Time 27 March 2013):
Grant Robertson: … can he enlighten the House as to whether he has had further contact with Mr Fletcher since their school days, perhaps in London?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Well, I cannot recall particular occasions; I am sure I may well have done so. What I can say, if the member wants to know, is that my mother was best friends with Ian Fletcher’s mother. If that makes a conspiracy, fair enough.
Key denies the pair were friends when they both worked in London. “From the best of my memory, from the age of about 18 to the age of about 48, so for 30 years, or three decades, I didn’t have any dinners or lunches or breakfasts with Ian Fletcher, nor do I actually recall actually seeing him in that time. So, I’m not a great and close friend of him.”
In recent years Key has shared “breakfasts” with Fletcher, in his previous role as director-general and chief executive of the Queensland State’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation, he said.
Fletcher, on Campbell live on 9 April, is also vague about when he “cross paths” with Key in more recent years. The timing of the alleged renewal of their acquaintanceship is a little strange because it seems very condensed into a short period. John Key (born Sept 1961) turned 48 in Sept 2009. Fletcher left his job in England to work in the Queensland Department of Employment, Development and Innovation in 2009). There were opportunities for Key and Fletcher to “cross paths” in 2009. Key visited Australia in August 2009. Curiously, Rennie and Key claim Fletcher was on their radar for a possible NZ “public sector chief executive” role.
The most likely time for Key and Fletcher to meet up for some “dinners, lunches or breakfasts” would have been in the period including 10-11 March 2010, when it seems Fletcher attended a conference in Auckland. Key was also in Auckland during those days, as listed in his diary which included an official visit to Counties-Manukau.
Fletcher was given funding to attend a convention on international investment in NZ in March 2010. The Annual Report 2009-2010, for Fletcher’s Queensland Department on the bottom of page 207, lists Fletcher as having incurred a cost of $ 3592
To accompany the Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy and Minister for Trade to the “Open for Business” New Zealand—Australia Forum and key trade and investment meetings in New Zealand.
Investment specialists from the United States, China and Singapore are among the international speakers featuring at next month’s New Zealand-Australia Investment Forum in Auckland.International Investment Experts to Provide Insights at Auckland Forum
Investment specialists from the United States, China and Singapore are among the international speakers featuring at next month’s New Zealand-Australia Investment Forum in Auckland.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), in partnership with the Australian Trade Commission (Austrade), is hosting the forum from March 10-11. The event aims to bring together New Zealand and Australian companies seeking investment, corporate leaders from around the world, global investors, senior government officials, and academic opinion leaders.
The Programme for conference lists Bill English as first speaker. Gerry Brownlee also was a speaker, plus speakers and panelists from various NZ and Australian government departments plus some from relevant areas in the business/corporate world including IBM, NZ and Dell, Australia, and Phil O’Reilly.
So, it is Fletcher’s intellectual property and international trade experience that seems to have been his attraction for Key. They may or may not have renewed there acquaintanceship before 2009, but, as Key knew of his background, they probably were moving through inter-connected networks prior to 2009.
This is where the Fletcher issue links in with the Dotcom case. Yesterday, in the House, NZ First’s Andrew Williams raised questions about John Key’s meetings since 2010 with Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros and a director of the Motion Picture Association of America. Tsujihara was photographed as being part of the Warners’-NZ government Hobbit talks in NZ as reported in the NZ Herald on 27 October in 2010. As Andrew Williams states, it’s intriguing that Tsujihara has specific interests and expertise in relation to intellectual copyright, and that,
on 28 October 2010 – a day after Mr Key met with Mr Tsujihara – the SIS lifted a hold on Kim Dotcom’s residency application.”
There is some evidence that it would be worth doing some further digging around the intersecting networks between Warners, Dotcom, Key, Fletcher etc, in relation to the moves by the elites to take control of the globalised world of intellectual property, and corporate and financial interests. For instance, Tsujihara was appointed as one of the non-executive directors for the SCi Entertainment group plc, at the same time as Aaron Brown in June 2008.
Aaron Brown worked at Merrill Lynch in London and New York (1996-2002), at the same time as John Key worked for Merrill lynch in London. Brown has been implicated, but not found guilty of dodgy dealings in relation to his partnership with Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, “billionaire property moguls”. The brothers were arrest in 2011 in relation to investigations by the US Serious Fraud Office and the collapse of an Icelandic bank in 2008. Brown’s interests are more in interactive gaming than property. The Simon Watkins’ article says:
Robert Tchenguiz’s two right-hand men, Aaron Brown and Tim Smalley, were also questioned. Brown has declined to comment, but Smalley denied that he was formally arrested.
American-born Brown began his career as a corporate lawyer and later worked at investment bank Merrill Lynch. He first teamed up with Robert Tchenguiz in 2004 to buy 200 pubs – long since sold.
Such networks may or may not be inter-related to the Key-Fletcher-Dotcom-Hobbit complex – hard to tell at this stage. however, if Key didn’t ac so suspiciously with his memory lapses, diversions and questionable dealings, there wouldn’t be an incentive to dig further.
TO BE CONTINUED…..