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SFO files charges in relation to National Party donations

Written By: - Date published: 3:37 pm, January 29th, 2020 - 55 comments
Categories: crime, election 2020, national, same old national - Tags:

This is a rather novel way for the National Party to divert attention away from the Government’s infrastructure announcement.

From Stuff:

The Serious Fraud Office is filing criminal charges against four people in relation to donations to the National Party.

But party leader Simon Bridges says neither he or the party has been charged.

The four are scheduled to appear in Auckland District Court on 25 February, according to a press statement by the office.

Bridges is presenting the news in as good a light as possible.

In a statement on Wednesday Bridges said he and his party had not been charged.

“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,”  Bridges said.

“This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP.”

His statement about the party not being charged is weird. The party is not an incorporated society so cannot be charged.  The only offence an unincorporated body can be charged with is encouraging its members to take action for the purposes of exceeding the advertisement limits for unregistered promoters.

Please no speculation on who the people are or on the details of the case.  This is for the Court process to work out and decide.

55 comments on “SFO files charges in relation to National Party donations ”

  1. Fireblade 1

    Bad Boys

    by Inner Circle (Music Video)

  2. Sacha 2

    By 'the party' Bridges seems to mean its Secretary.

  3. tc 4

    'This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP' who was a national MP acting under instructions at the time.

    Geez the lawyer in him doesn't get a word in when he opens his mouth…..as Mickey says lets see what the court says and observe how much legal muscle they bring

    • Muttonbird 4.1

      Given it's been pretty much confirmed none of the persons charged are part of the organisation receiving the funds – the National Party – you'd hope the court process uncovers all the links between those charged and the National Party and the communications between them also.

      • Anne 4.1.1

        Given it's been pretty much confirmed none of the persons charged are part of the organisation receiving the funds.

        In other words, the four people charged are those who physically divvied up the $100,000 donation and not the individuals inside the National Party, who conveyed one way or another to them, that the donation was to be divvied up.

        The National Party (taking into account a political party can't be charged with committing a crime) are sooo squeaky clean cos they had nuffink to do with it.

        Do they think all the voters were born yesterday? 🙄

        • Sacha 4.1.1.1

          Please no speculation on who the people are …

        • Chris 4.1.1.2

          "Do they think all the voters were born yesterday?"

          That's the problem – too many people do vote as if they were born yesterday. This election will see Bridges and his mates following very closely what the tories in Britain did last year and much of it will be successful because, essentially, voters in New Zealand are politically shallow and unthinking. This is probably the biggest challenge facing the left in New Zealand today.

      • Sacha 4.1.2

        It would be interesting to know how the scope of the SFO's work differs from other agencies like Police. Hypothetically, could charges of soliciting money be beyond their remit, but offering it not?

        • Muttonbird 4.1.2.1

          I don't know. But clearly the SFO have either not had the will, the remit, or the permission to look at the activities of the National Party on this.

          • Sacha 4.1.2.1.1

            Or there is not enough evidence available for a prosecution.

          • Dennis Frank 4.1.2.1.2

            SFO legal advisors presumably decided to go for the low-hanging fruit: those who actually broke the law. Since the Nats merely outlined the method to the donor(s), they are clearly higher-hanging fruit.

            As to whether it is against the law to devise methods of how to break it, and inform those intending to break it exactly how to implement the best method, I'll leave it to a lawyer to opine upon.

            I have a vague recollection that conspiracy to commit a crime is actually a crime – but others here may know more about that. Others may also suggest that any lawyer who sees evidence of a conspiracy is a conspiracy theorist. 🙄

            • McFlock 4.1.2.1.2.1

              Nothing is illegal about making multiple donations to a political party. Close examination of donations might bring to light a donor's other financial irregularities, though.

              And I note that the sentence (which I do not believe has been exactly used in this discussion) "the club hasn't been charged as an entity in the way companies can be charged for workplace safety violations" is not the same as "club officials have not been charged".

              Nobody can be ruled out or confirmed to be involved based on the information so far (which is the point of name suppression), and that's assuming the nats are telling the truth lol

              We know NU-Think!

              • Craig H

                Particularly tough to charge the party since the National Party doesn't exist as a legal entity (the Labour Party also didn't until it incorporated on 1 January 2020).

      • Michael 4.1.3

        "you'd hope the court process uncovers all the links between those charged and the National Party and the communications between them also."

        That's the last thing the court will do. In these proceedings all it has to do is determine the guilt of the people charged. As far as not identifying the defendants is concerned, I'm not aware of a Court granting name suppression yet – or if any applications for name suppression have been made by the defendants (or on behalf). The purpose of name suppression is supposed to be protecting the victims not shielding alleged offenders from justice (which should always be done in public).

  4. mary_a 5

    Four people have been charged by the SFO. A National party spokesperson and Simon Bridges have stated no one in or from National has been charged. Bit odd considering the donations were for National party!

    So who in close proximity of the party has breached electoral law in an attempt to allow National to benefit?

  5. Ed1 6

    I suspect we get sufficient laughs from the various defensive statements from National Party spokesmen without descending to the use of silly names – the bus int he picture is a legitimate cartoon, but the word "Soymin" does appear to go against the desire for a clean campaign, and encouraging polite discussions. Could we be a bit more careful about using social media 'dirty tricks' that merely provide (false) ammunition to those that will claim "but they are also doing it!"

    Many of the questions will be answered very soon – I suggest waiting to see targets before shooting may not waste ammunition . . .

    • Anne 6.1

      Come on Ed1. Compared to the mangling and malice visited upon Helen Clark and in more recent times Jacinda Ardern, the alteration of the spelling of Simon Bridges' christian name is positively meek and mild.

      • Ed1 6.1.1

        You and I may well think so, Anne, but to a die-hard Bridges supporter, any criticism of a Labour or Green politician is totally justified whereas the use of the word Soymin is a vicious and unjustified personal attack. It is on a left-leaning website and clearly accepted as normal, whereas the graffiti'ed pic of Jacinda in the Daily Review 28/01/2020 is clearly a set up by The Standard to make people believe that the righteous right is guilty of something that if not photo-shopped is probably the result of a Labour zealot trying to incriminate National. Such arguments do not have to be rational to be acceptable to the zealots, or more importantly to at least partially legitimise "return attacks" from the right. There is one blog that appears to me to be a series of dog-whistle posts designed to provoke rabid attacks on the left that are technically deniable – I would prefer that there not be seen to be an equivalent site from the left.

        What we can do is highlight some of the appalling rogue ads distributed through social media that attack the left – question why they are not being condemned, and highlight the lack of ethics from the right. I appreciate that this strategy will not be agreed by all readers of The Standard, but would the impact have been much the same if it had simply been 'signed' Simon, or if it had read the Honourable Simon Bridges ?

        • James 6.1.1.1

          You raise a good point Ed1. It’s fine to call Nats names on here (including bitch) – but do the same to Jacinda and you will get a completely different outcome.

          interesting huh.

        • Robert Guyton 6.1.1.2

          I agree with Ed1

      • Muttonbird 6.1.2

        And it's how pronounces his own name, ffs!

  6. Corey Humm 7

    This . I thought it was a massive mistake not attacking the nats over and over with this , I still think it was our chance to make them look like a leaderless corrupt mess and cement that idea like they did to us, had Helen Clark been pm I think she’d have mutilated Bridges and I doubt bridges would still be leader but Jacinda took the high road meanwhile did national take the high road over the inappropriate behavior scandal ? No they bashed is half to death over the head with it and said Jacinda should resign constantly and that scandal more than any hurt Jacinda and labour.

    This positive campaign i think it's a mistake ,we ran one in 2014 and 2017 and were unable to attack their ideas and we’re constantly having to defend ourselves, that $10 billion hole smear stopped us from having a lab/green govt. meanwhile the nats are running the most vicious attack politics social media campaign I've ever seen, they are even politicizing the CV outbreak, at some point Jacinda really will need to fight back just as viciously. I get she wants to change politics but there's no use in being positive and getting brutally smeared if it gets us in the opposition benches.

    • Muttonbird 7.1

      Fair point. It would be good to see some venom occasionally which, apart from doing the damage on the hapless opposition, would woo the Centre and Centre right who love that kind of politics.

      But I would say you must stick to what you know – stick to your style – because it is when you depart from your natural instincts in your work you get into trouble. When you try to do things someone else's way you never seem to do it well.

      JA has brought a lot of people back to Labour and the Left with her natural positivity. She's had her picture projected on the tallest building in the world – a Muslim building at that. This bridge-building is part of her natural skill set and it comes easy. Accentuate that and don't do anything to jeopardise it at this stage I would say.

      • Corey Humm 7.1.1

        Agreed , if not Jacinda someone else in the front bench could do the kicking, Grant is pretty good at shutting them down , I do think Jacindas style of politics resonates with many people and when it's her vs Simon on the debate stage she'll leave him for dust. Most centerist nats I've spoken to would rather have a beer with her than him. Still being nice and positive doesn't she can't fight back when they are negative.

        Would you say the nats are going further right this election?

        • Craig H 7.1.1.1

          They have attacked them in the House a bit, but only really as a defence to the NZ First issues.

    • barry 7.2

      The $11B hole is a big gift for Labour this time. I know the innumerate ex finance minister is gone, but plenty of current National MPs echoed the lies.

      The Labour party should be asking for apologies at every opportunity. They should be bringing it up every time National claim to be capable managers.

  7. NZJester 8

    No need to speculate as they are not important, just 4 scapegoats set up in advance to take the fall. Four kiss-ups who did not realize they had put themselves in danger as they stepped on others to reach for the golden rope dangled down to help try and climb higher in the party. Now that rope they started to climb will be definitely cut.

  8. “I have always maintained I had nothing to do with the donations.

    He knew nothing of what was happening with a very large donation to the party he leads? Uh, yeah, sounds legit…

    The data theft incident last year was bad enough, in which he claimed the high moral ground of "The Police declined to press charges." Less than a year later, he's back again with "he and his party secretary had not been charged." As ethical standards for people in high office go, "no criminal charges were laid" sets one motherfucker of a low bar.

  9. Anne 10

    Is it ok to post a link to the tape of the original conversation between Simon Bridges and Jamie Lee Ross? Its illuminating.

    https://i.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/107914931/jamilee-ross-and-simon-bridges-phone-call-transcript

  10. Ian 11

    squeeze me a lemon. The right dishonourable Winston Peters is as pure as the yellow snow.

  11. JustMe 12

    I hope the outcome will not be the expected "no evidence of criminal activity has been found in the investigation and so no charges or further investigation is required. It has been 'confirmed' that there was nothing criminal by National and that the donations were voluntary on the part of those making the donations…"

    Let the next lot of an orchestrated litany of lies now spew from the NZ National Party.

    Mind you all this could well explain why Simon Bridges has been going on so many overseas trips of late. The need to spend that accumulated money needs to go on something. Maybe it paid for a cruise around the South Pacific as well.

  12. James 13

    If found guilty – those should be held to account.

    those not charged after the investigation (by an enforcement agency) should not be accused of illegal behaviour.

  13. veutoviper 14

    Legal aspects (includig probable legal reasons why "the party" (ie National) or any of its officers have apparently been charged)

    There has been a lot of speculation above on these aspects so I wanted to recommend that as a first step people listen to the interview with Andrew Geddis, constitional law professor, Otago University on Checkpoint this evening which covers Andrew's views on these aspects in a clear down to earth manner for non-legal beagles.

    In summary, Geddis believes that this is the first time that such charges have been laid – assuming that they relate to 'how the donations were paid into the National Party accounts', and not to any other issues that were found in the course of the SFO's investigations.

    He is not particularly surprised that neither Bridges nor any Party offficials have been charged – for example the Party Secretary.

    According to Geddes:

    • For Bridges to have personally been charged he would have had to explicitly told the donors that he wanted them to pay the donations to the party in this specific illegal way. Geddis didn't believe anyone would be that stupid. LOL
    • Re the Party officials, the Party Secretary is the one essentially with legal liability but their duty is simply to receive the donations, bank them and then pass information onto the Electoral Commission.
    • There is no duty on the part of the Party Secretary to check or verify the information provided re the donations is accurate or true etc other than, for example, the donations were made by these named people and these people exist.

    The interview then covers other issues such as whether it is morally acceptable to operate in certain ways re party donations regardless of whether it is actually legal etc.

    This interview (6 mins) is worth listening to as a first step in understanding the SFO's actions in laying charges. I am sure that Geddis and others (eg Grame Edgeler also a constitional law guru) will publish articles/opinions in the coming days and weeks. Geddis is a regular contributor on such matters at Pundit and Edgeler occasionally at Public Address.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/2018731861/criminal-charges-filed-over-national-party-donations

  14. Blazer 15

    National are very strong on Law and Order….and also advocasadtes of…'pretty legal'!

  15. peterlepaysan 16

    Gangs acquire money via illegal means.

    The national party does not, never has.

    Puhleeze do better (the moon is made of cheese. NOT.

    The national party is a bunch of greedy wealthy (or wannabe wealthy) self entitled bullies telling the populace what is good for them.

    Trump is an egocentric spoilt .strutting loudmouth playground bully.

    The national party bears an uncanny resemblance to him.

    They both like and respect china. Why?

    MONEY.

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