Dodgy Niue deal back in the headlines

Written By: - Date published: 7:17 am, June 16th, 2016 - 107 comments
Categories: accountability, Ethics, national, spin, uncategorized - Tags: , ,

I hate to repeat myself, but the dodgy Niue deal is back in the headlines again. Bryan Gould in April – Niue contract damaging to Govt reputation

And then, we have the saga of the political donation and the Matavai resort on Niue. The facts can be simply stated. The owner of Scenic Hotels, Earl Hagaman – a well-known and perennial donor to the National party – made a donation of over $100,000 to the National party, and a month later his company was awarded the valuable contract to manage a resort on Niue.

The contract turned out to be even more valuable than had appeared at first sight when $7.5 million of taxpayer-funded aid money was paid to Scenic Hotels to upgrade the resort.

In any other country, and especially in those where such deals are commonplace, no one would be in any doubt as to what had really happened. In New Zealand, however, we are naively inclined to accept the blank-eyed, slack-mouthed assurances that it was all a coincidence and that nothing untoward had happened.

Andrew Little called for the Auditor General to look in to the Nats’ process in awarding the contract, saying the deal “stinks to high heaven”. Yesterday – Hagamans file defamation proceedings against Andrew Little

Labour leader Andrew Little has now been served with defamation proceedings by National Party donors and hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman.

On April 18, Labour had called for the Auditor General to look into Scenic Hotels Group’s contract to manage the Matavai resort and questioned the timing of the donation. At the time, Lani Hagaman strongly denied any link between the two.

“If Mr Little had taken the time to get to know us he would have found out that neither Earl nor I come from power or privilege, nor upbringings that cultivated expectation of favours.”

Not sure that the “just plain folks” card is going to work.

Little’s criticism was directed at the Nats processes in awarding the contract, not the Hagamans. He was doing his job as Leader of the Opposition – Andrew Little refusing to apologise over his comments about a Niue resort deal

Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.

I’m pretty sure this vexatious lawsuit will be laughed out of court. It does keep the Nats’ dodgy deal in the headlines though.

107 comments on “Dodgy Niue deal back in the headlines”

  1. save nz 1

    I think this is a great win for the Labour party, courtesy of bully boy tactics by corporate welfare rich listers.

    It is keeping all the dodgy crony deals in the headlines and exposing the bullying actions of rich members of NZ public getting tax payer money in dubious deals (seriously AID is now giving 7.5m to upgrade a private hotel, HELLO).

    Can we please ask for the 7.5million in AID for a luxurious hotel back so we can house some of our own people who are now living in cars and tents?

    I’m happy to donate to the Labour party for this. Dodgy deals are not acceptable and no wonder we are plummeting in the international corruption scales under the National government.

    Someone has to hold them accountable. And court seems to be the only place available now.

    • Ross 1.1

      Or the government could simply send to this resort as many homeless people as it can accommodate. That would be a tremendous gesture of goodwill.

    • Izan 1.2

      You mean someone has to hold Andy accountable for probable false allegations that will be proven false in court, in my opinion. Just what he needs leading into an election year.

      I think this will be another Banskie rerun, except in reverse.

  2. Greg 2

    And you can bet the upgrade work was very well priced, and profitable.
    Hagamans donation was a great investment.
    How much does this scenic hotel make in a year, and why couldnt the taxpayer own a slice of it for 7.5 Million.
    What a great scam.

  3. I do wonder if it’s a vexatious lawsuit to drain Labour of funds… (although Little’s taking the costs on himself at this stage) and also tie up Little’s time.

    • Puckish Rogue 3.1

      It could be but its on Little for saying what he said outside of parliament and then when he had another opportunity to withdraw he didn’t so I’m not sure this isn’t what he wants

      Publicity and all that

      • framu 3.1.1

        ” for saying what he said”

        but where did he actually explicitly defame the hagmans?

    • Jenny Kirk 3.2

      Yes – Ive been wondering also if the Hagamans are going to time this for being near the election campaign – to take up Andrew Little’s campaigning time on this frivolous matter.

      • Puckish Rogue 3.2.1

        Little has only himself to blame for this, he could have said what he said in parliament and nothing would have come of it, he also had ample time to withdraw and apologise for his remarks

        • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.1

          Why would he do that? There’s no case to answer.

          • Puckish Rogue 3.2.1.1.1

            Hes brought this on himself and he has no one else to blame but himself, the rules are in place to protect MPs (ask T. Mallard) from exactly this sort of thing

    • indiana 3.3

      ” (although Little’s taking the costs on himself at this stage) ”

      I doubt the Labour funds will ever be under threat – after Little released his income earnings publicly, there is every expectation that he will cover all legal expenses by himself. After all, its not like he’s buying up property or investing in shares with what he earns.

  4. Puckish Rogue 4

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out, I’m assuming the Hagamans got some expensive legal advice and are aware of what would happen if they go ahead with this (re: all political donations) so they must be pretty sure of themselves

    Of course the same could also be said of Andrew Little, does he really want Jacinda Arderns father dragged into this and having to justify his part in the decision

    No matter what it’ll be entertaining 🙂

  5. M. Gray 5

    The pnats donors are all doing very well that is why they are the pnats donors

  6. fisiani 6

    Little knew that he had made intemperate remarks and he was given every opportunity to apologise. The fact that he did not want to seem weak means that he will end up in court. The fact that the Hagamans are prepared to take him to court is because their integrity was besmirched. Another blunder by Little.

  7. dukeofurl 7

    The key to it is the ex national MP, ex HC in Niue,ex Wellington mayor, ex shoeshop owner , Mark Blumsky who has stayed on the island ‘ to benefit from tourist opportunities’.

  8. Keith 8

    As the accused surely Little is entitled to all relevant documents his accuers have in relation to their most intimate dealings with National to discover if they do have a working business relationship. Because if they fail to disclose and that is even suspected then the accusers case should fail.

    So apart from all the other frailties of these millionare bully boys case, will they hide things from Little they lawfully shouldn’t to save their skins?

    Bloody good of them though to remind us all of donations and contracts and friends of the National Party.

    • Sabine 8.1

      Well he should be entitled too any relevant information.
      This could indeed get very interesting and entertaining.

      • TC 8.1.1

        Yup either Earls gone rougue or hes on message consuming AL’s resources.

        Either way it keeps the stench wafting in the news cycles.

  9. Guerilla Surgeon 9

    Okay, how do you prove it. Is not as if they’d be stupid enough to say….. “here’s my $110,000, so now I can have the contract right?.”
    Genuine question.

    • Sabine 9.1

      Question: How do you prove that they did not say that?
      Genuine question.

      • Bob 9.1.1

        Andrew Little publicly inferred this happened, now he has to prove it. If he doesn’t have proof then he really should have used parliamentary privilege to cover his arse.
        If he wasn’t smart enough to get proof first, or use the priviledges offered to him as an MP then he really is showing he’s not fit to become PM.

        • Richardrawshark 9.1.1.1

          I think fisi BM Bob, Little’s words that you are on about were “bla bla this deal LOOKS dodgy”.
          I remember the interview very well

          At no time did he come out in public saying it WAS a dirty deal.

          Then Hagaman threatened a law suit if he didn’t retract, well why would he the deal looks dodgy. It’s just a statement of fact.

          You guys are pathetic. hang yourselves, it’ll be easier now than after the election when the NZ public massively vote red green or anything but blue.

          • Bob 9.1.1.1.1

            “You guys are pathetic. hang yourselves”
            There goes the good old “if you don’t agree with me kill yourself” argument, just in case fisiani or BM are going through tough times at the moment, below are some numberrs you can call for support. Remember, Richard just isn’t articulate enough to explain his thoughts, so he is taking his anger out on you:

            Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
            Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
            Healthline – 0800 611 116
            Samaritans – 0800 726 666
            Chinese Lifeline – 0800 888 880 (for people who speak Mandarin or Cantonese)

            “it’ll be easier now than after the election when the NZ public massively vote red green or anything but blue.”
            I may still vote Greens or Labour myself, this may be a bizarre concept to you, but I don’t vote for one party at every election, in fact I have voted for 3 different parties in the last 5 elections (none of which were ACT).

          • dv 9.1.1.1.2

            You guys are pathetic. hang yourselves,

            That is OTT Richard

            • Richardrawshark 9.1.1.1.2.1

              Depends on how YOU imagine it was inferred?

              That’s what I hate about the internet to many clowns who sit around itching to twist your words or meaning into a telling off to gain a smidgeon of power in their otherwise worthless lives. :

              Think about that.

              • McFlock

                So you meant to imply that the tories should do something other than kill themselves?

                Please, expound forth about what your suggestion was for them to do – autoerotic asphyxiation? Impersonating a bat?

                • Richardrawshark

                  Take it in context as a dig, nothing more! perhaps.

                  If your implying I actually would want them to follow my words and kill themselves you must think i’m Yoda or have the powers of the Force, or that I think people are so gullible and i’m so nasty I would actually be someone who wished that?

                  Seems to show how nasty you think other people are more than the people are nasty themselves?

                  Or did I twist things this time?

                  • McFlock

                    I’m outright stating that you’re throwing powerful phrases around lightly.

                    I don’t think you’re necessarily nasty, but that sort of stupid shit really has been connected to suicides. Nobody in those instances genuinely wanted the person to kill themselves, either.

                    What are you, 15 years old and the class bully? That shit is fucked up if you mean it as a gentle tease, and is even more fucked up if you mean it as anything more than a gentle tease. Grow up.

              • James

                Right,

                So you tell someone to go hang themselves, and its their fault and they have worthless lives if they find it disgusting.

                People HAVE, and DO kill themselves after being told they are worthless and that they should hang themselves.

                Just because you dont have the Yoda power to actually make them do it – you can be a trigger, the final straw, or the thought that actually gets them thinking about it and actually doing it.

                Having had someone close to me badly hurt because of people saying things like you have – something you think is OK, and that we are worthless for pulling you up on it just shows what a fucked up view of the world you have.

                As I said before I hope you never feel the pain that comments like yours can bring people. The worry about losing someone if that last person sends them over the edge. The sleepless nights with them trying to bring them down, the pain of having to repair scares both mental and physical.

                So yes – I think your comment is disgusting. And you should be ashamed.

                I’m disappointed that the mods have let it ride without comment (Or they have not seen it).

                And I thank the others who are viewed as having worthless lives by Richardrawshark who had the courage to call him out on it.

            • Stuart Munro 9.1.1.1.2.2

              Yes – they should be able to rely on a justice system with plenty of rope.

          • James 9.1.1.1.3

            So now the caring left (well Richardrawshark) tells people he disagrees with to hang themselves.

            Thats disgusting.

            Here is hoping that suicide doesn’t cause you or your family any of the devastation that you are so happy to recommend to others.

          • Gangnam Style 9.1.1.1.4

            Do be careful with your language Richard, the right wing trolls are ready to highlight any thing like that & start smearing the left with ‘see the left are the nasty ones’, I think they got some kind of filter for it. Take care, I enjoy your passionate comments.

            “There goes the good old “if you don’t agree with me kill yourself” argument” I mean, I have never heard it before so I doubt its the ‘good old’ at all, but see how they will use it against you/us.

        • framu 9.1.1.2

          “Andrew Little publicly inferred this happened, now he has to prove it. ”

          no he doesnt – all he has to prove is that he wasnt talking about the hagmans or it was honest opinion

        • D'Esterre 9.1.1.3

          Bob: “…..publicly inferred this happened….”

          I think the word you’re reaching for there is “implied”.

          • Bob 9.1.1.3.1

            Ah yes, you are correct, as he had no evidence so he couldn’t possibly have inferred. Thank you for the correction.

      • Puckish Rogue 9.1.2

        I suppose the first thing you do is look at the process, who decides who gets the contract and the time frame involved

        I’m assuming there must be minutes and emails to prove or disprove it, I mean I’d have assumed that the decision would have already been made with a month to go or so, so if they had decided to go with company A and then the donation is made and suddenly the decision is changed to company B then that would certainly go along way to proving Little right

        • Richardrawshark 9.1.2.1

          What does he have to prove? the deal looks dodgy.

          your thinking little has to prove the deal was somehow illegal.. good luck blowing that balloon up you idiot.

          I doubt it’ll get past pre deps you silly person, what case does Andrew have to answer, please quote me his exact words that said hagarman and national had actually commited a crime? Or something worthy of defamation?

          If it was that easy to get charged for, Hoskings would be in paremoremo. So would Key and all politicians. Gawd look at the stuff Winston says is dodgy..like wine boxes and people dieing suspiciously..

          • Puckish Rogue 9.1.2.1.1

            The problem is you’re looking at it from your own point of view, try looking at it from Earls point of view, he feels hes been defamed, he asked for a retraction and apology and Little could have ended it but he chose not to

            • framu 9.1.2.1.1.1

              the hagmans point of view is somewhat irrelevant

              what matters is the law – not whether someone feels they were picked on

              • Puckish Rogue

                Yes, Little could have made it gone away for little money but now it has to go to court

                • McFlock

                  Yes, but he stood by his principles rather than his bankbook.

                  Not that you’d understand the difference.

                  • Puckish Rogue

                    Or he could have used parliamentary privilege like what its supposed to be used for

                    • McFlock

                      Or he made a perfectly reasonable statement that should require no special protection and your helpful suggestion is simply a roundabout way of gagging MPs when they’re trying to speak anywhere except in the House.

                    • Puckish Rogue

                      Or he made a perfectly reasonable statement that should require no special protection and your helpful suggestion is simply a roundabout way of gagging MPs when they’re trying to speak anywhere except in the House.

                      Well no he didn’t, he smeared someone with the insinuation that hes crooked so no that’s not reasonable

                      As for gagging I thought the point of parliamentary privilege was that ministers could bring up issues and name names, if need be, without getting sued so far Andrew Little its exactly what its there for, so he can say whatever hare-brained (and it was) thing he likes without getting sued for defamation

                      Don’t blame me, the media, the Hagamans or anyone else for Littles own stupidity in not using the very thing designed to stop him from being sued, that’s on him.

                    • McFlock

                      To a large degree it’s up to the courts to decide which interpretation is appropriate: you argue that he made a defamatory insinuation, I think it’s reasonable to ask that something be investigated to ensure it’s on the up-and-up.

                      Fucksake, my workplace on occasion has to make sure shit’s been signed for properly or procedures followed, and nobody thinks that’s a personal insult. The diligence is the demonstration that things are beyond reproach, not an assumption that everything’s fine until you can prove otherwise.

                      But if the case is a frivolous as it seems to me, then your advice simply is that MPs should make no statements outside the House. No lobby statements, no speeches of any significance, no media interviews, just in case a millionaire takes offence at perfectly reasonable statements.

                    • Richardrawshark

                      PR -“Well no he didn’t, he smeared someone with the insinuation that hes crooked so no that’s not reasonable..”

                      this is where your argument falls over, to defame he would need to name hagaman in person, a deal has no feelings, you cannot defame a deal. and the deal was what he was referring too, if by association National and hagaman are involved well, Lawyers can argue this sort of thing for years.

                • framu

                  you mean he could have apologised for something he didnt actually do

                  ive yet to see anywhere that little said that the hagmans were acting corruptly

                  the hagmans have to prove that little was either a) expressly calling them corrupt (instead of the govt) or b) claiming fact instead of opinion

                  so – can you point to where little made such claims?

                  • Puckish Rogue

                    I took it to mean that the deal and therefore anyone involved were dodgy and I’m pretty sure that’s what Little was suggesting

                    But as you say the courts will decide

                    • framu

                      what were you saying about “thats just your view point”? – 🙂

                      kidding aside however – to many, little was asking if the actions and decisions of the govt and its employees might have been corrupt – and thats all he needs to show (AFAIK).

                      however if little had said the hagmans made the donation with the understanding of a reward – then, yeah, he would be in deep do-do. But i dont think he said such a thing

                      i reckon hagman knows this and his lawyers advised him as such – hes playing for time and damages via legal threat not judicial outcome

                    • Puckish Rogue

                      That’s a legit possibility but I’m thinking its more personal, Earl doesn’t appear to need the money he might win so I’m thinking instead that he took very real offence at what was said and wants an apology

                    • framu

                      edit – i didnt mean money going to hagman – i meant costs of both time and $ to little/labour

                      sure he might have felt offended – but thats some pretty thin skin for someone at the top of the business chain – doesnt stack up to me

            • Richardrawshark 9.1.2.1.1.2

              You can’t take someone to court for hurt feelings PR, and this is all this is. Where is the loss ? What financial loss has hagaman incurred from Littles this looks dodgy comment.

            • Sans Cle 9.1.2.1.1.3

              You are on first name basis with the Hagmans P.R.?

  10. Eric Bloodaxe 10

    Welfare fraud – nothing but bludgers off the public teat. Glad that the Hagerman’s have taken this action as it supports the Labour/Green axis highlighting “business as usual” from the Nats. Can’t wait to see what happens.

  11. Ralf Crown 11

    New Zealand – one of the worlds most corrupt societies, and like bowlers, the feudal lords do whatever it takes to hide it.

    • indiana 11.1

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index

      NZ is ranked 4th least corrupt….not sure how you formed your opinion

      • Repateet 11.1.1

        They obviously don’t count the casual corruption from Government. Things like dishonesty and bullying are well down the list compared to money bags of millions changing hands.

        Our corruption might be of the nice clean type. Doesn’t make it moral, doesn’t make it right.

        Key and co. do what they can get away with. People like Little are not supposed to ask questions and we are not supposed to be suspicious.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.2

        Not an objective measure by any means – perceptions on an interested group – basically speculation.

      • Ralf Crown 11.1.3

        Ranked – by whom. I am able to observe myself and make my own judgments, based on personal and others experience. Also Nazi Germany war highly ranked once. Corrupt means a collaboration to break the system. Who controls the information flow, and who prevents the “wrong” information to be known

      • Ralf Crown 11.1.4

        To learn what corruption can do on the figures, take a look at North Korea. New Zealand is listed as one of the least corrupt nations, and 98% of the population support and vote for Kim YongUn. Do you spot the similarity? Another one, New Zealand is calling itself “pure – clean and green” while in hard crude UN figures is the third worst pollution nation in the world, per capita.

  12. reason 12

    Hagamans been throwing big money at right wing politicians for a long time and has used his donations to Labor when they were a right wing vehicle to pretend to be a neutral donor …………..

    Most of what National is doing is either borderline or outright fraudulent, sky city, saudi sheep deals, tax havens etc etc …………. I’m sure this deal is straight up and New Zealand companys are actually who our foreign aid money is meant to be spent on….. our own Halagamanburton

    Also of note is Niue is a recognized tax haven …….. so there s probably a strong National party connection ………. http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/8515361/Money-trail-leads-home-to-New-Zealand

    ““In the case of the island of Niue, the firm essentially ran a tax haven from start to finish.”

    He noted Key had been “curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands”.

    Panama Papers whistleblower cites Pacific isles, NZ, for good reasons

    I wonder if hagamans is running cover for the huge amount of bullshit keys been spouting in response to Littles heat on our sub-prime..minister …….

    “Andrew Little: Did he send John Shewan and Don Brash to the Bahamas in 2014 to advise that Government on tax matters?” …later on same debate :

    “Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot confirm whether the Bahamas is a tax haven or not—I simply do not know. ” ……….. Hagaman better hope he’s got more credible witnesses than dishonest john.

    http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/business/qoa/51HansQ_20160413_00000002/2-tax-system%E2%80%94overseas-trusts

    Hagaman the bag man 😉

    • Sabine 12.1

      yes, this will be interesting and entertaining.

    • Johan 12.2

      “Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot confirm whether the Bahamas is a tax haven or not—I simply do not know. ” ……….. Hagaman better hope he’s got more credible witnesses than dishonest john.
      When John Key worked for Merrill Lynch a large amount of money was funnelled out of the USA into Ireland. If I am not mistakes these funds found there way to the Bahamas, as another tax avoidance caper.

    • Instauration 12.3

      A probable US Caselaw example
      The presumptive worth of Earl ? – back then;

      http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20CACO%2020090616012/IN%20RE%20MARRIAGE%20OF%20FAIRBANK

      Those Trusts are just not worth much ! – to me.

      Could be sad for the “three ‘minor’ children” ?
      – and Barbara

  13. Joe-90 13

    I’m not a lawyer and like others, would welcome one to step in here, but I do deal with lawyers daily in my work and get involved in litigation on occasion. No defamation so far, but plenty of situations involving discovery. I just want to clarify that in my experience, courts don’t allow the massive fishing expeditions some responses have assumed/hope for. It’s possible, but more likely discovery could be limited to material around this deal, so fishing to explore the wider relationship the Hagman’s have had with the National Party through time, any patterns with other deals etc, might not happen. I’m not saying this because I think Little’s chances of prevailing are low or I’ve got it in for him, this is just a trying to shed a bit of light on one of the points people are interested in.

    • Ian 13.1

      I’m not a lawyer either and can’t understand why Andrew Little did not apologize and every one could have moved on. He has opened himself up for a very expensive,vote losing experience ,and the only winners will be his political opponents.

      • KJT 13.1.1

        So it was just coincidence someone gets a lucrative contract after donating to National. Most other countries have a word for that sort of thing.

        • Ian 13.1.1.1

          Whatever. Little now has to defend a defamation case . Let him put his money where his mouth is.

      • Graeme 13.1.2

        So you’d let the bullies prevail?

      • Draco T Bastard 13.1.3

        Why should Andrew Little apologize for doing his job properly?

    • Instauration 13.2

      Relevant discovery Will be suppLemented by abUndant revelation.

    • lprent 13.3

      They do limit fishing. However in this case, I suspect that the limits would include political donations. After all that allegation has to be at the heart of the Hagaman’s complaint.

  14. fisiani 14

    Why do you call it dodgy? What evidence of malfeasance do you have?

    • McFlock 14.1

      See, now it’s obvious you’re just googling big words.

      “Dodgy” is a grey area – might be illegal, might be legit, but you can’t tell, that’s why it’s dodgy. You’re unsure of it, as in “those brakes seem a bit dodgy”, or “a guy in a bar tried to sell me a really cheap 60inch TV, he said it was from a batch of factory seconds but it looked dodgy”.

      If there were actual evidence of “malfeasance”, it wouldn’t be “dodgy”: it would be outright illegal. Just to be absolutely clear, I am not aware of any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever, and am not making that claim. I don’t even think Little made that claim. But the timing of the donation and the decision make the entire situation look dodgy as, so further investigation might be wise. Like how youmight be wise to look more closely at the provenance of the TV if you wanted to avoid a receiving charge (or not, if you were an ethical vacuum).

    • infused 14.2

      none. these guys don’t have a clue.

      little will settle this before it goes to court.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 14.3

      In answer to the first question: “If it looks like a duck…”
      Political donations and corruption.

    • Stuart Munro 14.4

      Well the Gnats are involved – it will be utterly saturated with corruption – no straight players on that team.

  15. Bob 15

    http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20CACO%2020090616012/IN%20RE%20MARRIAGE%20OF%20FAIRBANK

    Seems someone owes or owed the irs $14.7 million. Puts a different light on why someone would find new Zealand an attractive place to move too.

    • Daveosaurus 15.1

      … Holy shit that’s the smoking gun right there. Hagaman is toast.

      I’m surprised that John Key’s 50c army isn’t desperately trying to downplay this. Fizzy must be asleep at the keyboard this weekend…

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