- Date published:
8:26 am, January 30th, 2020 - 38 comments
Categories: election 2020, election funding, law, law and "order", national, same old national, Simon Bridges, suppression orders, uncategorized - Tags: jami-lee ross
Yesterday’s SFO announcement that four persons have been charged with offences following the investigation of the Feng Shue carve up of a $100,000 donation to National will reverberate for a while. Unfortunately for National during election year. It makes National’s claim that it is the party of Law and Order pretty suspect. And it reinforces concerns that National is rather too reliant on Chinese sourced money.
Bridges tried to suggest National had been exonerated by the decision to charge. In a press release he and the party said:
As expected neither National Party Leader Simon Bridges, nor the National Party have been charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.
“I have always maintained I had nothing to do with the donations. As I have always said the allegations against both myself and the Party were baseless and false,” National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.
“This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP.”
“I have always been confident in the way the Party receives and declares donations,” General Manager Greg Hamilton says.
“We are happy to put this matter behind us and will not be making any other comment.”
Bridges claiming he had nothing to do with the donations is a bit rich. We have all heard the tape Simon. Particularly this bit:
JLR: [laughs] Hey um you know at Paul Goldsmith’s function you saw those two Chinese guys, [redacted] and [redacted] ? You had dinner at their home?
JLR: They talked to you about a hundred thousand dollar donation –
JLR: That is now in.
JLR: What would you like done with it? It’s currently sitting in a Botany electorate account.
SB: Um look, I just think we want it for, uh, the advertisements and the like, you know? We want it for the things that we’re gonna need to do over the next year or so, sort of outside of the – not outside of the party but um, uh, you know, like I say we want to do some more attack ads – say we want to do another regional fuel one, say we want to do an industrial relations one.
When I first read the statement my lawyer’s antenna picked up. National is an unincorporated society and generally for legal purposes has no separate standing.
Under the Electoral Act normally an unincorporated body cannot be charged with an offence. There are some references to “unincorporated bod[ies]” in the Act but offence provisions refer to persons.
So saying that the party had been cleared is not correct. It could not be charged.
Sam Sachdeva and Andrew Geddis have interpreted the statement as being that no one in the party has been charged, and in particular the party secretary. But I wish that Bridges and National were more careful with their language. After all Bridges is a lawyer. Surely he knows the difference between the party and the general secretary.
I am sure the press will be focussed on the first appearance of the defendants later next month. If and when disclosure of the identities of those charged is made then his statement can be reviewed.
As I said yesterday please do not speculate on who the people charged are or on the details of the case. This is for the Court process to work out and decide.