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SFO to Investigate Labour Donations

Written By: - Date published: 4:32 pm, July 13th, 2020 - 39 comments
Categories: accountability, Andrew Little, Deep stuff, election 2020, jacinda ardern, labour, Politics - Tags: , , ,

The Serious Fraud Office has started an investigation into donations made to the Labour Party in 2017.

Annoyingly, they have given few details, so speculation will be rife.

They say:

“The SFO is presently conducting four investigations in relation to electoral funding matters. A fifth matter that the agency investigated relating to electoral funding is now before the courts.

“We consider that making the current announcement is consistent with our past practice in this area of electoral investigations and in the public interest,” the Director of the SFO, Julie Read, said.

In the interests of transparency and consistency, the SFO has announced the commencement of all these investigations.”

The SFO does not identify who was leading the party at the time of the alleged donations, Andrew Little or Jacinda Ardern, nor is any detail given about the nature or size of the donations.

One thing is sure; it’s not likely to be National’s missing $100k, unless Jami-Lee Ross really was a Machiavellian genius.

UPDATE: It appears the investigation may be into donations made at a ‘silent’ art auction in 2017. In February, Labour acknowledged that two men facing SFO charges along side National Party bag man Jami-Lee Ross and another man over donations to the Tories, had made donations to Labour as well.

Labour Party president Claire Szabo said at the time that Zheng Hengjia donated $10,000 by buying a piece of art at a silent auction in April 2017 and Zheng Shijia donated $1940 in 2018.

Szabo noted both donations were included in the Labour Party return filed in the respective years.

39 comments on “SFO to Investigate Labour Donations”

  1. Ed 1

    Interesting timing.

    Just after Boag’s leaks have been stopped.

    And just as the pressure built up on Woodhouse and Muller.

  2. RedBaronCV 2

    This took place in 2017 and they are just investigating this now ? And can't give any details? So did somebody complain really late in the piece and if so who – do the have a political motive.? Shades of the late investigation in the USA – but her emails!

    • That occurred to me when I was writing the post, RedBaron. The vagueness is reminiscent of the FBI announcing that there were new emails 8 days before the 2016 election, throwing massive shade on Hillary Clinton, then saying a week later there was nothing to it after all. Damage done.

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    Very important to delay such investigations until the next election looms. About the only effective way for a bureaucrat to affect the election outcome eh? Notice how they have factored in that Labour politicians will be too clueless to call them out on that.

    Well, I suspect the PM is smart enough to figure it out, maybe Parker too. But they will default to the impotent response. Politicians must not be seen to be finding fault with public servants – the establishment must protect its own at all costs.

    Would be refreshing if Labour proves me wrong about this. Cynicism ain't good for the soul & I would welcome the opportunity to retract. 😇

  4. Well Labour are searching for a leaker in the MOH…, this may slow things a bit.
    Most donate like me, when they have a few spare dollars to add to the small fortnightly donation.
    The SFO will have their work cut out chasing all the bitsy donations, crumbs making a pie lol

    • Ed 4.1

      A politicised civil service.

      • OnceWasTim 4.1.1

        Well, at least one with its own agendas and entrenched ideology that isn't necessarily in tune with the public they supposedly "serve".

        Missed opportunities for starting reform. It's not fit for purpose – specially when dirty politics is in vogue. Cudda Shudda Wudda. Maybe next time after September? Yea/nah

    • Incognito 4.2

      Well Labour are searching for a leaker in the MOH…

      No, they are not.

      There’s an enquiry by Mike Heron commissioned by the SSC, if that’s what you mean.

      Neither coalition party/partner nor the C&S party have authority to search for leakers in the PS, AFAIK.

      Just because National is implicated, it doesn’t mean we have to or should somehow associate Labour with it too even if they are the so-called ‘good ones’. There are many reasons to avoid this kind of framing.

  5. observer 5

    I'm sure Labour and the Greens won't mind at all if the opposition want to try and score points on this.

    "Tougher rules? State funding? Transparency? Crack down on trusts? Sure, you call for it, and we'll sign up, OK?"

  6. Fireblade 6

    SFO investigations into donations to the National Party, the NZ First Foundation and the Labour Party. Yay.

  7. Cricklewood 7

    Cleaning up politcal donations is long overdue, some stiff penalties will go along way towards cleaning it up.

    Granted the scale of the Nats malfesance will far outweigh in dollar value that of any other political party but any individual or party found to be knowingly funneling donations outside the law needs to punished in a manner that acts as a real deterrent.

  8. Morrissey 8

    Perhaps Tod Muller will put his crack team of anti-corruption MPs onto it. There's, errrr, Woodhouse, and there's errrrr, ummmm…. Bill English? Ummmm…. We're going to spend one point four billion on a road…..

  9. Byd0nz 9

    Is capitalism corrupt?

  10. Nordy 10

    Party returns are externally audited before submission to the Commission. They are the responsibility of the party (i.e the President and not the leader/PM).

    I would be surprised if the timing is in any way coincidental to the wider political events/news.

    We all await with interest the outcome of the investigation.

  11. Anker 11

    Heard part of an interview with Andrew Geddis on checkpoint. He was speculating I think that this was to do with labour’s fundraising auctions ie how art work gets valued then if someone pays an inflated price and their donation gets hidden ie they are not named.

    he was saying the electoral commission can’t investigate these things. I wonder what the route is to the serious fraud office. With National it was because jami lee Ross went to the police

    • ianmac 11.1

      Yes. I thought a complaint had to be laid. If it is the Auction that is being explored were there not some dodgier fund raising from National? There were dinners with a very wealthy host but individuals donated less than $15,000 so the host could donate say $100,000 via the guests.

    • Muttonbird 11.2

      I wonder what the route is to the serious fraud office?

      Matthew Hooton?

  12. Anne 12

    What annoys me about this is any Tom, Dick or Harry can lay a malicious complaint culminating in an investigation. That the SFO are refusing to give any details has a smell about it to me.

    When you think about the millions of dollars the Winebox wide-boys were allowed to get away with and compare to what – I suspect – is some piddling activity involving a few hundred dollars you have to wonder what’s going on.

    Some of Hager’s comments with Campbell this morning might be pertinent to this story too:

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/covid-patient-info-scandal-reeks-organised-campaign-national-author-nicky-hager-argues?auto=6171093733001

    Edit: just seen Anker's comment. Well now, the person who manages those art work fundraising efforts happens to also be Jacinda Ardern's Mt. Albert Electoral Office secretary. So, someone is aiming to get at Jacinda by trying to sully the name of her secretary?

    • Incognito 12.1

      I know SFA about SFO but I believe it takes more than just a “malicious complaint” for SFO to start an investigation.

      https://www.sfo.govt.nz/report-a-fraud

      • Anne 12.1.1

        Its almost as if someone waited until recent times before they laid the complaint which might well be based on substantive evidence that has less to do with Labour than some other source but we won't know that until the investigation is complete which won't be this side of the election.

        In other words its the timing that smells.

        • Incognito 12.1.1.1

          I’m sceptic of that theory. Unless they have insight inside knowledge of how SFO works, its criteria and weightings, its decision-making processes, what its timelines are, its current workload, et cetera, it is a very lucky shot for it to be announced when it did. It is possible but highly unlikely, in my perspective.

          • Patricia Bremner 12.1.1.1.1

            Nobody is mentioning Gerry Brownlie's group and their promised activities.

            This has changed the headlines. But I could just be seeing patterns where there are none.. time will tell perhaps.

            • Incognito 12.1.1.1.1.1

              The lethal radiation is coming from one point and source, the same one as before. Dispose of the source, decontaminate, and it will be safe again for normal politics to resume and thrive. The team of five million needs it, wants it, and deserves it.

  13. Coreyhumm 13

    Oooh this wiffs of dirty politcs or atleast bias. The timing reminds me of Comey in 2016 re Hillary.

    Honestly…. Weird that this is coming out after nationals been caught out leaking…. Almost as if a political aprty had a black opps unit and released this as distraction (except the medias not covering that to begin with)

    Labour better ge their own black ops unit, if not to attack national then to go over it's staff, candidates and campaign managers with a fine tooth comb so the nats can't find any dirt on them and drop them like a hot potato if there is.

    This is going to be a nasty election.

    I hope if labour wins, we can finally take on the civil servant sector these unelected pricks hate our guts and will embarrass the crap out of us and try muzzle our platform agenda. Take em on.

  14. georgecom 14

    if this relates to donations from individuals who are before the courts based on dodgy shonky donations to the National Party, then I can understand the SFO wanting to have a look. Does not mean the Labour party did anything wrong, might mean the accused made other donations the SFO wants to look at. It make some sense.

    • Anne 14.1

      The fact Labour themselves don't know what its about is telling.

      If your'e correct georgecom why hasn't the SFO clarified as much? All manner of people donate to political parties and its not as though Labour would have had any reason to be suspicious at the time. The JLR revelations only surfaced last year.

      I say it again. It smells.

    • Cinny 14.2

      +1 George

  15. ianmac 15

    I think someone, perhaps Campbell, who muttered something about the same people maybe involved it both the National case and the Labour case. Tenuous I know, but splitting donations?

  16. anker 16

    Yes Georgecom I heard on one news something about Labour saying they don't know what its about, but they wondered if the SFO wanted to look at a couple donations they got from the same people involved in dodgy donations to National. So Andrew Geddis may have just been speculating about the Art Auctions.

    I agree with others on this thread, I smell a National rat!

  17. Fireblade 17

    Labour Party President Claire Szarbo released a statement to 1 NEWS.

    "We have not been advised of the specifics of the inquiry, however the Labour Party will fully cooperate with any SFO investigations."

    "For completeness however, we note that we have already made statements to media in February confirming that two men who were then being investigated by the SFO and had made donations to the National Party, had also made donations to Labour."

    "These two men are Colin Zheng (Shijia Zheng) and Hengjia Zheng. Labour says Colin Zheng donated $1940 in 2018 and it was included as a donation within their party return filed that year."

    "Hengjia Zheng donated $10,000 by purchasing a piece of art at a silent auction in March of 2017, Labour says and it was also included as a donation within the party return filed that year."

    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/serious-fraud-office-investigating-labour-party-donations-2017

  18. Brian Tregaskin 18

    Be confident that if this about the ART Auction will not make it to court as SFO know they stand a equal chance of losing and will be liable for costs if decision does not go their way. (Whats to stop multiple people liking the art and biding against each other 🙂

    I will look forward to see if team at Pundit agree with me

  19. David Mac 19

    Don't all political parties, nations and those deemed influential take CCP backhanders in one form or another? It's the way of the modern western world.

    Deceive, infiltrate, dominate, it is the CCP way….Sorry Hong Kong.

    I don't think we should be bickering over who got a free tank of gas whilst somebody is swiping the ute.

  20. Tiger Mountain 20

    Centrists all over are saying the SFO flag on this investigation is nothing more than it appears to be. The timing during “National caught leaking ‘Walkergate’” is total coincidence–‘most likely scenario is the true scenario’, ‘cock up rather than conspiracy’, Occams, etc. Well wake up, to me the brief statement appears to be purposefully obscure, just enough to seed doubt and smear excrement on Labour.

    Two posters up thread made good points–the meme generated by this for hard working Nu Zilundas, is easy–“Labour do it too”, do what? well, you know maayte…
    and, Ed’s one on a politicised public service–i.e. pro NZ National Party. The Govt.’s inability/unwillingness to make an example of senior and junior snitches in the public sector has not helped them one little bit.

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